Maine Tax Relief Initiative, Question 4 (2009)

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The Maine Tax Relief Initiative, also known as Question 4, was on the November 3, 2009 ballot in Maine as an indirect initiated state statute, where it was defeated. The measure would have limited government spending increases to increases in population and inflation. The measure was also called "TABOR 2" after the Maine Taxpayer Bill of Rights (2006), which failed to pass after 53.9% voted against the measure.[1][2][3][4]

Election results

Maine Question 4 (2009)
ResultVotesPercentage
Defeatedd No336,14460.11%
Yes 223,059 39.89%

Election results via: Maine Secretary of State, Elections Division, Referendum Election Tabulations, November 3, 2009

Text of measure

The language appeared on the ballot as:[1]

ME2009Nov Question 4 SB.PNG [5]

Summary

The following summary was provided in the Maine Citizen's Guide to the Referendum Election:

This initiated bill imposes expenditure limitations on state and local government and requires voter approval of certain state tax increases.

Under this bill, growth in annual expenditures of the General Fund, the Highway Fund and Other Special Revenue Funds are limited according to increases in population and inflation. For the General Fund and Highway Fund budgets, revenues exceeding the expenditure limitation must be distributed by directing 20% of that excess to a budget stabilization fund and 80% of that excess to a tax relief fund. The budget stabilization funds may be used only in years when revenues are not sufficient to fund the level of expenditure permitted by the growth limits. The Tax Relief Reserve Fund must be used to provide tax relief through broad-based tax rate reductions or refunds proportional to individual income tax personal exemptions claimed in the previous tax year. The Highway Fund Reserve Fund must be used to provide a decrease in motor fuel taxes. For state agencies that manage Other Special Revenue Funds, the managers of those funds must report excess surpluses to the Legislature with a plan for refund of those revenues.

Under this bill, a state tax increase would require a majority vote of each House of the Legislature and majority approval of the voters.

This bill provides that state expenditure limits contained in the bill may be exceeded by a majority vote of each House of the Legislature and majority approval by the voters.

The bill adds the requirement of majority approval by the voters before municipal and county expenditure limits may be exceeded.

The bill requires majority approval by the voters for the annual indexing for inflation of motor fuel taxes.

The bill requires counties and municipalities to use a cost center budget summary format developed by the Department of Audit and requires information in that format to be made available to local voters, filed annually with Maine Revenue Services and posted on any publicly accessible website maintained by the county or municipality as well as on the Maine Revenue Services website. [5]

Maine Secretary of State, [1]

Intent and content

The following description of the intent and content of this ballot measure was provided in the Maine Citizen's Guide to the Referendum Election:

This initiated legislation changes existing law with regard to limits on spending by state, county and municipal governments, and state tax increases.

State government spending limits, tax increases and voter approval process

The initiative repeals the existing caps on spending of state General Funds and replaces it with a new formula that limits growth in spending for all state funds to the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index for the most recent calendar year plus the percentage increase in state population for the three most recent years. The new formula also caps the Highway Fund and other Special Revenue Funds and requires separate calculations for these funds as well as for the General Fund. Certain expenditures are exempt from these spending limits, such as federal funds, pension fund contributions, disability payments and taxpayer refunds. Any spending over the limits set by the new formula would have to be approved as a separate measure, first by a majority of all the members of each house of the Legislature, and then by a majority of the voters at a statewide referendum election.

Any state tax increase projected to generate revenue equal to or exceeding 1/100 of one percent (.01%) of General Fund revenue in a fiscal year would require approval of a majority of all the members of each house of the Legislature and a majority of voters at a statewide referendum election. This requirement would apply to a new tax, an increase in a tax rate, the expansion of the tax base for an existing tax, an extension of a tax increase that was due to expire, or elimination of an existing tax exemption, credit or refund.

Under current law, the excise tax on motor fuels that goes into the Highway Fund is adjusted each year for inflation, based on the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index. This initiative provides that an increase in the motor fuel tax to adjust for inflation would not take effect unless and until approved by a majority of the voters at a statewide referendum election.

Before each statewide referendum vote, specific information regarding the fiscal effects of a proposed tax increase or proposal to exceed the spending limit on state funds would have to be mailed to every registered voter in the state. The state would be required to reimburse municipalities for the cost of conducting any special statewide election for this purpose.

The initiative also creates certain reserve funds. At the end of each fiscal year, 80% of any General Fund revenues not spent would be transferred into a Tax Relief Reserve Fund which the Legislature would have to use to fund temporary or permanent broad-based tax rate reductions. Similarly, 80% of any excess revenues in the Highway Fund at the end of each fiscal year would be transferred to a new Highway Fund Reserve Fund. If the amount in this reserve fund exceeded 1% of Highway Fund expenditures, the State Tax Assessor would be required to reduce taxes on motor fuels proportionately for the following calendar year.

County and municipal government spending limits and voter approval process

The initiated legislation changes the existing spending limits for county and municipal governments to add that the growth in spending allowed cannot exceed the percentage change in personal income in Maine, averaged over the previous 10 years, plus the percentage change in the Consumer Price Index forecast for the next two calendar years.

Under existing law, counties may not exceed the spending limit without the approval of a majority of all members of the county budget or budget advisory committee and a majority of the county commissioners. A referendum vote may also be required if petitions are submitted with enough voter signatures to trigger a referendum. The initiated legislation would repeal the optional referendum process and mandate it instead.

Municipalities could not spend over the revised caps without getting voter approval, either at a town meeting, or by a separate referendum vote for those municipalities governed by a city or town council.

If approved, this citizen initiated legislation would take effect 30 days after proclamation of the vote.

A “YES” vote favors enactment of the initiated legislation.

A “NO” vote opposes enactment of the initiated legislation. [5]

Office of the Attorney General, [1]

Fiscal note

The following fiscal impact statement was provided in the Maine Citizen's Guide to the Referendum Election:

Fiscal Notes and Detail. The implementation of this initiated bill is contingent upon approval by the voters at referendum in November of 2009. If adopted, the spending limits imposed by this bill are projected to allow growth in expenditures from prior year spending of 1.84% in fiscal year 2010-11, 3.22% in fiscal year 2011-12 and 3.15% in fiscal year 2012-13. Compared to projections of General Fund and Highway Fund revenue in the May 2009 revenue forecast, the spending limits exceed the projected growth of revenue and budgeted spending for these 2 major funds in fiscal year 2010-11 and therefore have no impact on those funds in that year.

General Fund revenue growth is projected to exceed the spending limits beginning in fiscal year 2012-13. Highway Fund revenue growth rates fall below the spending limits through fiscal year 2012-13. The extent to which the spending limits in this bill affect spending in the General Fund and Highway Fund will depend on the level of budgeted spending in any fiscal year. The limitation on the spending in this bill also applies to Other Special Revenue Funds of the State. The impact on those funding sources will vary significantly between the different accounts.

This legislation requires future statewide elections involving all municipalities to adopt increases in spending over expenditure limitations or to approve any tax and fee increases. If a special election is held, the State is required to reimburse the municipalities for the cost of the election. The Secretary of State estimates the total cost of one special election at $975,000. The legislation also requires the Secretary of State to send a notice to each active voter household providing information about the election. It is estimated that the maximum cost to produce and mail these notices would be $434,400.

The annual indexing of motor fuels would become contingent on voter approval beginning in fiscal year 2010-11. Consequently, the budgeted revenue associated with indexing would be removed from baseline revenue forecasts. This would have no effect on budgeted revenue in fiscal year 2010-11, but would decrease budgeted revenue beginning in fiscal year 2011-12. Budgeted Highway Fund revenue would decrease by $3,673,386 in fiscal year 2011-12 and $8,621,645 in fiscal year 2012-13. The contingent indexing would also decrease revenue to the General Fund and Other Special Revenue Funds of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and the Department of Conservation.

This bill amends the year-end statutory transfers from the unappropriated surplus of the General Fund. It repeals the transfers to the State Contingent Account of up to $350,000 and the Loan Insurance Reserve within the Finance Authority of Maine of up to $1,000,000. It also repeals transfers to the Retirement Allowance Fund, the Reserve for General Fund Operating Capital, the Retiree Health Insurance Internal Service Fund and the Capital Construction and Improvements Reserve Fund. The repeal of the current Maine Budget Stabilization Fund eliminates the funding source of the death benefit for law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency medical services persons who die in the line of duty.

For the General Fund and the Highway Fund, the bill requires at the close of each fiscal year that 80% of any state surplus must be transferred to reserve funds to be used for tax relief and the remaining 20% must go to General Fund and Highway Fund Budget Stabilization Funds that may only be used if revenues are not sufficient to fund the level of expenditure permitted by the spending growth limits.

For state agencies that manage Other Special Revenue Funds, the managers of those funds must report excess surpluses to the Legislature with a plan for refund of those revenues.

If the balance in the Tax Relief Reserve Fund created in this bill funded by year-end transfers at the close of a fiscal year exceeds 1% of total General Fund expenditures, the Legislature must enact legislation by September 15th of that year to provide tax reductions. If the Legislature fails to enact legislation, the State Tax Assessor shall calculate a one-time bonus personal exemption refund.

If the Legislature calls itself into special session to enact legislation by the September 15th deadline, the Legislature will incur additional costs estimated to be $55,000 per day. The number of additional special session days and the timing of the additional costs can not be estimated.

This bill creates the Highway Fund Reserve Fund to receive transfers by the State Controller of 80% of the unappropriated surplus of the Highway Fund at the close of a fiscal year. The remaining 20% of the unappropriated surplus of the Highway Fund will be transferred to the Maine Highway Budget Stabilization Fund. If the amount in the Highway Fund Reserve Fund exceeds 1% of the Highway Fund expenditures for the previous fiscal year, the State Tax Assessor shall calculate a proportional reduction on motor fuel taxes to become effective the following January 1 and remain in effect for one calendar year.

The bill requires municipalities to use the cost center budget summary format and post the summary on a website if the municipality has a website. Approval by the voters at referendum would mean these requirements would not be imposed by the state and therefore no state mandate is created.

ME2009Nov Question 4 FS.PNG

[5]

—Office of Fiscal and Program Review, [1]

Support

Tabor Now.png

TABOR 2 was sponsored by David Crocker, an attorney in Portland, Maine Leads, a citizen action group, and others who came together and formed a coalition called TABOR Now.

When the Maine Secretary of State announced that the tax relief initiative had qualified for the November ballot, Crocker released a statement that said, "The TABOR NOW initiative is about giving Maine citizens a greater voice in the debate over how their hard-earned income is taxed and spent by politicians. Politicians have refused to create real tax relief and have continued to squander opportunities for positive change. It's time for we, the people to rise up and create the relief we know will create new jobs and strengthen our families during these challenging economic times."[6]

Maine Merchants Association

On September 28, 2009 the Maine Merchants Association voiced their support for Question 4. Executive Director Curtis Picard said,"Orr retailers and merchants continue to be concerned about the level of spending that occurs here in Maine, and LD 1, although it was well-intentioned, didn't quite have the teeth to it that everybody anticipated it would, and they're hopeful that this TABOR initiative is different from the first one, and is a step in the right direction." The organization came to the decision after discussing the proposed spending levels.[7]

Maine Chamber of Commerce


Yes on 4 TV Ad 10-26-09

The Maine State Chamber of Commerce withdrew its support for Question 4 on September 22, 2009. Five months prior, the chamber supported the measure before the legislative policy committee. According to chamber officials the business organization was unable to reach a consensus position on Question 4. "When you have a complex, challenging policy like this is, it is very difficult in a referendum process that only allows you a 'yes' or a 'no' to reconcile those challenges," said Conners. The chamber opposed a similar TABOR bill in 2006. However, the chamber as a whole did not ultimately support or oppose the 2009 measure.[8]

National Taxpayers Union

The National Taxpayers Union supported Question 4. According to the organization, Question 4 was "arguably the most important ballot item in this year’s election, nationwide. It will serve as a model for other states wishing to return to a path of fiscal responsibility, prosperity, and citizen involvement in their government." Additionally, NTU argued that the measure would ensure that government grows at a manageable rate and protects taxpayers from the endless cycles of budget deficits and higher taxes. The measure was included in NTU's 2009 General Election Ballot Guide. A website in support of Question 4 called Maine 4 Taxpayers was a site sponsored by the National Taxpayers Union, as well as a coalition of taxpayers and policy advocates.[9]

Portland Regional Chamber

On October 7, 2009 the Portland Regional Chamber, Maine’s largest business organization, announced its support for TABOR II. Chamber CEO Godfrey Wood said, "The vote to support TABOR II was over 60%, consistent with the organization’s longstanding history of supporting broad tax reform and relief, and limiting the growth of government spending at all levels of government."[10]

Online property tax calculator

In October 2009 the Maine Heritage Policy Center launched a new online tool on their website www.maineopengov.org that allowed for Mainers to "compare spending in their town versus spending in other towns." The policy center said that they hoped the new online tool helped shed some light on local spending. "We want citizens of those towns to go in and say, wait a second, my town is the same size as this town but we're spending twice as much what's going on," said Michael Bowden of the Heritage Policy Center.[11]

  • Maine Heritage Policy Center's online local property tax calculator can be found here.

Opposition

No on 4.jpg

Organized opposition to the initiative came from a group called Maine Can Do Better. The group was led by Ben Dudley, who once chaired the Democratic Party in Maine.[6] Official campaign coalition is called No on TABOR.

When it became clear that the initiative's sponsors had collected enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, the opposing group released a statement saying, "We are disappointed to see TABOR return to the ballot after its rejection by Maine voters in 2006. TABOR's rigid, one-size-fits-all mandate on state and local spending will make it even more difficult to rebuild our economy. The proposal regarding auto excise taxes is equally ill-conceived. It will put a stranglehold on cities and towns and further limit our ability to address infrastructure needs. Both proposals simply run counter to the win-win strategy of stimulating the economy while preserving and growing jobs."[6]


No On Question 4 TV ad, 9-29-09

Individual groups that opposed the measure included, according to Maine Can Do Better:[12]

  • Portland Education Association[13]
  • Maine Education Association
  • Citizens Unified for Maine’s Future
  • American Associations of Retired Persons (AARP)
  • American Council of Engineering Companies - Maine (ACEC-ME)
  • Associated General Contractors - Maine (AGC-ME)
  • American Society of Civil Engineers - Maine (ASCE-ME)
  • Bangor Area Homeless Shelter
  • Citizens Who Support Maine Public Schools

...view all opponents here.

South Portland City Council

On Monday, October 5, the South Portland City Council voted unanimously to oppose Question 4. According to reports, council members said they were concerned about TABOR's limitations on state and municipal budgets, which they said could affect roads and emergency situations. “The biggest impact on Maine and most people is the highway. The city, this year, ended up paving some roads the state should be paving,” said Councilor James Hughes.[14]

Maine Education Association

The Maine Education Association (MEA) was opposed to Question 4. "We're going to fight the people that want to cut funding to education in the state," said Chris Galgay, the MEA president. In the past, MEA has opposed tax cap proposals, including those proposed in 2004 and 2006. Despite the arguments that approval of Question 4 would lead to a decrease in funding for education, MEA officials argued that TABOR 2 would not restrict state spending but instead increase it over time.[15]

Attorney General Janet Mills

On October 29, 2009 during a visit to the University of Maine Attorney General Janet Mills announced that she would be voting against TABOR II. She said, speaking as a former legislator and not as the state attorney general, "I think it [TABOR II] is burdensome and unnecessary. I just don’t think we need a state-wide campaign every time there needs to be a tax expenditure."[16]

Campaign contributions

See also: Campaign finance requirements for Maine ballot measures

$3,728,645 was reported to have been contributed to campaigns relating to Question 4, $360,518 in support and $3,368,126 in opposition. However, some of the contributions were to groups supporting or opposing multiple campaigns, so an exact donation figure for the measure cannot be calculated.[17]

Supporters

Committee groups that contributed to the "Yes on 4" campaign included:[18]

  • TABOR Now (PAC)
  • Maine Leads (BQC)
  • Maine Heritage Policy Center (BQC)

Contributions

In support of TABOR II, the campaign raised approximately $217,523, according to October 2009 reports.[19]

Below is a chart that outlines major cash contributions to the Yes on Question 4 campaign:[19]

Contributor Amount
TABOR Now $159,096.26[20]
Maine Leads $16,387.56[21]
Maine Heritage Policy Center $42,040.59[22]

Opponents

Committee groups that contributed to the "No on 4" campaign included:[18]

Prior to publishing a report against TABOR II, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) filed paperwork with the state of Maine to be identified as a ballot question committee opposing Question 4. The primary CBPP individuals identified in the paperwork include: Robb Gray, Iris Lav and Scott Bunton. The paperwork was officially received by the state on September 14, 2009.[23]

Contributions

In opposition of TABOR II, Citizens Unified for Maine's Future campaign raised a total of $1,695,895.00 in cash and spent $1,291,780.03, according to October 2009 reports.[24]

Below is a chart that outlines major cash contributions to the Citizens Unified for Maine's Future:[24]

Contributor Amount
Citizens Who Support our Schools PAC $557,600
Donald Sussman (investment manager of Trust Asset Management LLP) $370,000
Maine Municipal Association $140,000
Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Washington D.C. $100,000
Maine State Employees Association, SEIU $10,000

Media editorial positions

Main article: Endorsements of Maine ballot measures, 2009

Editorial boards in support

  • The Sun Journal supported Question 4. In an editorial the board said, "There is no perfect time for TABOR. Yes, the revenue projections for the state are dismal: yet another $200 million needs to be found in the budget, according to latest calculations, in the next round of bloodletting that has passed for budgeting in Augusta recently.Blame the economic downturn for this. But also blame the lack of foresight by policymakers in restraining spending during boom times. For years, the message has been clearly sent to the State House that what's coming out is not commensurate with what's going in. It's too much."[25]

Editorial boards opposed

  • The Bangor Daily News opposed Question 4. They said,"Putting government on a strict diet is an attractive scenario. But the problem with this approach is that what looks like a diet is in fact more like stomach stapling, a radical and risky procedure. The reasons for rejecting TABOR II are the same reasons similar measures were defeated by Maine voters in 2004 and 2006. Limiting government spending in this manner means a sweeping change to the nature of our representative government."[26]
  • The Kennebec Journal/Morning Sentinel opposed Question 4. In an editorial, they said,"Passing TABOR would take away the ability of our representative government to function, and give a mathematical formula more power than the collective will of the people, as expressed through the election of their representatives. That's why we urge a 'no' vote on Question 4."[27]
  • The Seacoast Media Group opposed Question 4. They said,"State voters in their wisdom rejected the Taxpayer Bill of Rights before; we urge people to remain firm in their opposition this time around. Under TABOR II, Maine government will only be allowed to grow by a formula based on the inflation rate, plus the rate of population growth. And the base year is 2010, by any standard a terrible economic period."[28]
  • The Brunswick Times Record opposed Question 4. They said,"We encourage a decisive “No” vote on Question 4. Perhaps then, the Maine Heritage Policy Center and other TABOR proponents, funded largely by out-of-state interests, will get the message they apparently failed to understand from our state’s two previous rejections of this measure: Three strikes and you’re OUT!"[29]

Path to the ballot

See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Maine

Although the petition to qualify the measure for the ballot was circulated beginning early in 2008, it missed the deadline to appear on the November 2008 ballot, but made the deadline to appear on the November 2009 ballot.[30] The filing deadline for the November ballot was January 22, 2009. The number of valid signatures required was 55,087 (10% of the total votes cast for Governor at the November 7, 2006 election).

Polls

See also: Polls, 2009 ballot measures
  • An Oct. 31 - Nov. 1 poll by Public Policy Polling revealed that 39% of voters said they were in favor of Question 4, whereas 57% said they were opposed and 4% remain undecided. Approximately 1,133 voters were surveyed. The poll has a +/-2.9% margin of error.[31][32]
  • According to a poll conducted from October 23-26 by Critical Insights revealed that 47% of voters are in favor of Question 4, while 45% are opposed and 8% remain undecided. They polled a total of 600 registered voters. The data was released at an October 28 press conference by TABOR Now.[33]
  • A poll released October 27, 2009 by Pan Atlantic SMS Services revealed that 42% of voters are in favor of Question 4, whereas 49% are opposed and 10% are undecided. Approximately 400 voters were polled. The poll is reported to have a +/- 4.9% margin of error.[34][35]
  • A poll conducted from September 30 - October 7 by Pan Atlantic SMS Services revealed that 53% of voters are in favor of Question 4, whereas 39% are opposed and 8.5% are undecided.[36][37]
Date of Poll Pollster In favor Opposed Undecided
Sept. 30 - Oct. 7 Pan Atlantic SMS Services 53% 39% 8.5%
Oct. 20 - 22 Pan Atlantic SMS Services 42% 49% 10%
Oct. 23 - 26 Critical Insights poll 47% 45% 8%
Oct. 31 - Nov. 1 Public Policy Polling 39% 57% 4%

News opinion poll

  • In a non-scientific opinion poll conducted October 23, 2009 by the Bangor Daily News, they asked: "Do you think TABOR II would adversely affect education in Maine?" Approximately 55% (322 votes) said "yes," while 45% (263 votes) said "no."[38]

Reports on TABOR II

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

On September 22, 2009 the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released a report, written by Catherine Collins and Iris Lav, analyzing the possible effects of TABOR II. In their analysis, the "nonpartisan public policy center" concluded that TABOR II will "endangers public services and business climate." According to the center TABOR II is scheduled to go into effect before the state fully recovers from the recession - an move that "undermine state and local services in Maine in much the same way that Colorado experienced under its TABOR." The report adds that Colorado's experience has resulted in a drop in the state's education spending and should serve as a warning for Maine.[39]

The report also explained that despite supporters' arguments that Maine is in need of greater control on spending, Maine has been relatively stable on spending. Specifically they addressed 2005's "LD1" legislation which imposed constraints on spending throughout several government levels (i.e. state, county and school district). The 2005 legislation, says the report, has resulted in slower government spending growth.[39]

"The rigid limit in TABOR II goes too far. It would prevent the state from restoring cuts made during the recession and from making adequate investments in education, health care, environmental quality and infrastructure. The decline in services would hamper efforts to improve the state’s business climate and competitiveness," reads the report.[40]


TABOR video posted by Maine Can Do Better

Response to report

David Crocker, chairman of TABOR NOW, said that the report's statements were misleading. Specifically Crocker referred to the center's arguments that Colorado's 2005 vote to loosen some of TABOR's restrictions should be indicative of the Question 4's possible impact on the state. However, Crocker argued that in 2005 the state of Colorado did not eliminate TABOR, they simply suspended the restrictions during an economic downturn. Additionally, Crocker noted that despite arguments that education spending in Colorado has decreased, the state is "more prosperous" because of it's "business-friendly policies."[40]

American Legislative Exchange Council

In March 2009 the American Legislative Exchange Council released a second edition of "Rich States, Poor States: ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index." According to the "nonpartisan association's" report, Maine ranked 47th in the nation in economic outlook and 24th in economic performance. Additionally, Maine ranked poorly in personal income tax rate, total property tax burden, inheritance-estate tax and average workers’ compensation costs.[41] Jonathan Williams, one of the report's authors, said in October 2009 that the state of Maine will in fact benefit from TABOR or some form of government spending restrictions.[42]

Response to report

TABOR opponents argued that the report is based solely on income and sales taxes which in Maine are scheduled to be phased out in 2010 under a restructuring bill, which they argue will help reduce the tax burden on Mainers. However, Williams noted that the bill "just shifts around the taxes" and will not help Maine's national rank.[41][43]


TABOR in Colorado by the Maine Heritage Policy Center

TABOR in Colorado

See also: TABOR, Colorado example

TABOR was approved in Colorado in 1992. In 2000 an amendment to Amendment 23 required education spending to increase and in 2005 voters approved a ballot measure that loosened many of TABOR's restrictions. However, in 2008 voters rejected Colorado Initiative 126, also known as Amendment 59, which would have extended the 2005 amendment which is scheduled to end in 2010. In 2009 Gov. Bill Ritter announced that he is currently working with groups to propose an initiative that addresses eliminating portions of TABOR for the 2011 state ballot.

Opponents of Question 4 argued that the state of Colorado has suffered in light of TABOR and the limits in government the 1992 act imposed. However, some Coloradoans argue otherwise. "Nothing could be further from the truth," said Barry Poulson,Senior Fellow in Fiscal Policy at the Independence Institute. According to Poulson TABOR helps strengthen fiscal rules and policies "conducive to economic growth and prosperity, and prevents the kind of fiscal debacle occurring in California."[44]

South Portland City Council complaint

In mid-October the state Ethics Commission launched an investigation into the South Portland City Council, after the TABOR 2 campaign filed a complaint over a city decision to include a mailer with its property tax bills. The approved mailer urged citizens to oppose two ballot measures scheduled to appear on the November 3, 2009 ballot - Question 2 and Question 4.[45] "We were deeply concerned that the city was using taxpayers' money to not very subtly tell taxpayers how to vote on these two referenda," said David Crocker, Question 2 campaign chairman. The Ethics Commission said that they will consider a formal investigation on November 19, however, the city of South Portland is required to submit a written response by October 30, 2009.[46]

Legislature investigation

Supporters of Maine's Question 4, better known as TABOR 2, asked the Maine Attorney General for an investigation into Senate President Elizabeth Mitchell and House Speaker Hannah Pingree's use of staff and positions to oppose the November 2009 ballot measure. "Is it appropriate for the presiding officers to have this sort of meeting where in effect it appears that threats are made and promises given at the same time," said David Crocker, chairman of TABOR Now, on Monday.[47] The allegations were made after supporters obtained a series of emails and information regarding a "closed-door meeting." They argue that the evidence obtained reveals a clear violation of state law.[48] TABOR supporters specifically point to an email from Rick McCarthy, a lobbyist for Maine Tomorrow and former staffer for a state legislator, to a Pingree staffer in which McCarthy said that "20 people at the meeting and that 'ultimately we hope to raise funds from them.'" However, both legislators deny any solicitation of funds and said they were surprised by the allegations.[49]

Attorney General dismisses complaint

Attorney General Janet Mills dismissed the complaint, citing that they hadn't provided sufficient evidence of wrongdoing to warrant an investigation. "We do not initiate investigations in this office unless and until there's a threshold of something to investigate. There's absolutely no suggestion there's any criminal activity," said Mills. Tarren Bragdon, executive director of the Maine Heritage Policy Center, said that he was surprised by the quick dismissal.[49]

Despite the attorney general's response, campaign supporters said they plan to continue the pursuit of an investigation with the state ethics commission.

Other TABOR measures

ApprovedaColorado Taxpayer Bill of Rights Act (1992)
DefeateddMaine Taxpayer Bill of Rights Initiative (2006)

See also

Articles

BP-Initials-UPDATED.png
Suggest a link

Pencil.pngGrover Norquist says YES to Maine's TABOR II, protestors say "Go home"
Pencil.pngThe many facets of TABOR II

Pencil.pngInterviews

External links

Organizations

Additional reading

Editorials

Reports

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Maine Secretary of State, Division of Elections, "Maine Citizen's Guide to the Referendum Election, Tuesday, November 3, 2009," accessed May 9, 2014
  2. Maine Secretary of State, Elections Division, "Referendum Election Tabulations, November 3, 2009," accessed May 9, 2014
  3. Press Herald, "Legislators, Mainers again seek tax reform," March 1, 2009
  4. WMTV, "Maine Citizen Initiatives Certified; Will Go To Legislature," February 24, 2009
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Maine News Updates, "Battle lines drawn in new TABOR debate," February 24, 2009
  7. The Maine Public Broadcasting Network, "Merchants' Group Throws Support Behind TABOR 2," September 28, 2009
  8. Maine Public Broadcasting Network, "Chamber Withdraws Support for Spending Cap Initiative," September 22, 2009
  9. National Taxpayers Union, "Maine4Taxpayers," accessed November 23, 2013
  10. Portland Regional Chamber, "Portland Regional Chamber Supports TABOR II," October 7, 2009
  11. WABI, "Tabor Battle Heats Up With New Online Service," October 5, 2009
  12. Maine Can Do Better, "Sponsors," accessed January 12, 2013
  13. Portland Education Association, "Excise Tax," accessed September 14, 2009
  14. South Portland Sentry, "South Portland council opposes TABOR II question," October 8, 2009
  15. Portland Press Herald, "Educators give priority to defeating TABOR," March 4, 2010
  16. Maine Campus, "Maine Attorney General calls TABOR ‘burdensome’," November 2, 2009
  17. Follow the Money, "Maine 2009 Question 4," accessed May 12, 2009
  18. 18.0 18.1 Maine Campaign Finance, "Committees Involved in the November 2009 Ballot Questions," accessed September 27, 2009
  19. 19.0 19.1 'Maine Campaign Finance', "Question 4 support," accessed October 28, 2009
  20. Maine Campaign Finance, "TABOR Now," accessed October 28, 2009
  21. Maine Campaign Finance, "Maine Leads," accessed October 28, 2009
  22. Maine Campaign Finance, "Maine Heritage Policy Center," accessed October 28, 2009
  23. Maine Campaign Finance, "Registration: Ballot Question Committees," September 14, 2009
  24. 24.0 24.1 Maine Campaign Finance, "Citizens Unified for Maine's Future," accessed July 7, 2013
  25. Sun Journal, "Question 4: The time for TABOR," October 18, 2009
  26. Bangor Daily News, "No on Question 4," October 22, 2009
  27. Morning Sentinel, "Government by referendum is no substitute for democratic process," February 21, 2010
  28. Seacoast Media Group, "Our take on state ballot questions," October 28, 2009
  29. The Times Record, "‘No’ on Question 4," October 29, 2009
  30. Portland Press Herald, "Repeal proposal on school mergers misses 2008 vote," March 18, 2010
  31. Public Policy Polling, "TABOR Going Down, Gay Marriage Still Close," November 2, 2009
  32. The Advocate, "Maine Poll: 51% Yes, 47% No on 1," November 2, 2009
  33. Maine Public Broadcasting Network, "TABOR 2 Polls Reach Different Conclusions About Support for Initiative," October 29, 2009
  34. Maine Public Broadcasting Network, "Poll Finds Waning Support for TABOR 2," October 26, 2009
  35. Bangor Daily News ,"Opposition to ballot questions grows," October 27, 2009
  36. Sun Journal, "New poll shows Mainers support gay marriage, TABOR," October 15, 2009
  37. Portland Press Herald, "Poll: 51.8% plan to vote no on question 1," October 14, 2009
  38. Bangor Daily News, "Do you think TABOR II would adversely affect education in Maine?," October 23, 2009
  39. 39.0 39.1 Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, "Maine’s “TABOR II” Repeats Mistakes of Colorado, Endangers Public Services and Business Climate," September 22, 2009
  40. 40.0 40.1 Bangor Daily News, "Report says TABOR II will hinder business," September 23, 2009
  41. 41.0 41.1 American Legislative Exchange Council, "New Report Shows Path to Economic Recovery for States," March 19, 2009
  42. Bangor Daily News, "Conflicting reports released on TABOR," October 20, 2009
  43. Kennebec Journal, "Tax expert urges thrift," October 20, 2009
  44. The Bellingham Herald, "Coloradoan says tax-limiting initiative there has worked," September 27, 2009
  45. Associated Press, "TABOR campaign files complaint with commission," October 25, 2009
  46. Maine Public Broadcasting Network, "TABOR 2 Campaign Lodges Complaint Over City of South Portland Mailer," October 23, 2009
  47. Bangor Daily News, "Pro-TABOR group seeks investigation," October 27, 2009
  48. Maine Public Broadcasting Network, "TABOR 2 Campaign Asks for Probe of Legislative Leaders," October 26, 2009
  49. 49.0 49.1 Kennebec Journal, "TABOR-backers' call for criminal probe rejected," October 27, 2009