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Maine Water Quality, Question 5 (June 2010)

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The Maine Water Quality Bonds Issue, also known as Question 5, was on the June 8, 2010 ballot in Maine as a legislatively-referred bond question, where it was approved. The measure issued $10.25 million in bonds to fund water quality improvements, drinking water programs, construction of wastewater treatment facilities and development of environmentally sound water sources by farmers.[1][2][3][4]

Election results

Maine Question 5 (June 2010)
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 175,165 55.50%
No140,44244.50%

Election results via: Maine Secretary of State, Elections Division, Referendum Election Tabulations, June 8, 2010

Text of measure

The language appeared on the ballot as:[3]

ME2010June Question 5 SB.PNG [5]

Summary

Maine Sample Ballot for June 8, 2010

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 Act would authorize the State to issue bonds in an amount not to exceed $10,250,000 for the activities described below.

The Department of Environmental Protection would expend $5,850,000 of the bond proceeds as follows:
  • $3,000,000 would go into an existing state revolving loan fund administered by the Maine Bond Bank and distributed by the Department of Environmental Protection in the form of loans to municipalities to construct and upgrade wastewater treatment facilities. These funds would be matched by approximately $15,000,000 in federal funds (a 5:1 ratio of federal to state funds);
  • $600,000 would provide grants to municipalities for up to 80% of the cost to construct and upgrade wastewater treatment facilities. These funds are expected to leverage $900,000 in federal and other funds;
  • $1,000,000 would go into the Small Community Grant Program to provide grants to towns in rural areas to help replace malfunctioning septic systems that are polluting a water body or causing a public nuisance;
  • $750,000 would be allocated to support the investigation and clean-up of uncontrolled hazardous substance sites where contamination by hazardous substances poses a threat to public health and water quality; and
  • $500,000 would provide grants to help fund the removal of individual overboard discharges of wastewater, with a high priority given to eliminating sources of contamination to shellfish harvesting areas and public nuisance conditions.
The Department of Health and Human Services, together with the Maine Bond Bank, would administer $3,400,000 of the bond proceeds as part of the state’s safe drinking water revolving loan fund. Loans from this fund may be issued to eligible public water systems to design, construct or improve drinking water supplies or treatment and distribution systems, or for any actions authorized or required under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act of 1996. These funds would be matched by approximately $17,000,000 in federal funds (a 5:1 ratio of federal to state funds).
The Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources would administer $1,000,000 of the funds in the form of grants to farmers, awarded through a competitive process, to fund up to 75% of the cost of constructing or expanding environmentally sound water sources to irrigate crops and minimize drought damage. These bond funds would be matched by $350,000 in other funds, representing 25% of the cost of these projects.

The bonds would run for a period not longer than 10 years from the date of issue and would be backed by the full faith and credit of the State. If approved, the bond authorization would take effect 30 days after the Governor’s proclamation of the vote.

A “YES” vote favors authorizing the $10,250,000 bond issue to finance the above activities.

A “NO” vote opposes the bond issue in its entirety. [5]

Office of the Attorney General, [3]

Fiscal note

Treasurer's Statement for the June 8, 2010 ballot

The following debt service description for these bonds was provided in the Maine Citizen's Guide to the Referendum Election:

Total estimated life time cost is $12,786,875 representing $10,250,000 in principal and $2,536,875 in interest (assuming interest at 4.5% over 10 years). [5]

Office of the Treasurer, [3]

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

This bond issue has no significant fiscal impact other than the debt service costs identified above. [5]

Maine Office of Fiscal and Program Review, [3]

Support

Officials

The Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce voted May 20, 2010 to endorse the four bond measures that appeared on the statewide ballot. According to board Chair Michael Ballesteros the bonds were in line with the chamber's interest's of the state's business community. The Portland Chamber of Commerce also supported the bond measures.[6]

Gov. John Baldacci supported the four June 2010 bond measures. In his weekly radio address he said the bonds would help boost the economy, help small businesses and support energy independence. Baldacci noted that he understood the reluctance to vote in favor of the measures but argued that Maine was conservative with borrowing and paid its debt in less than half the time it takes most states.[7][8]

Tactics and strategies

In May 2010 Dana Connors, president of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, said a coalition was being formed to launch an advertising campaign in support of the bond proposals. According to Connors they were planning to do some "advertising." Connors argued that the bonds would help create jobs.

Some supporters said that although they did support the proposed bonds on the June 8, 2010 ballot, they worried that voters wouldn't readily approve them, particularly because the state and the country were coming out of a recession. Chris Hall, vice president of the Greater Portland Chamber of Commerce said that supporters had to work hard to convince voters. "We did have some members on our board that opposed our endorsement because of those same concerns. But most, more than 60 percent, supported all of the bond package," he said.[9]

Opposition

The Maine Heritage Policy Center was opposed to the bonds scheduled to appear on the June 2010 ballot. Center President Tarren Bragdon said that while bonds were appropriate for some state needs, Maine had too much debt. "It’s our hope that the voters will reject some of these and send a strong message to the politicians in Augusta that if you are not going to be responsible with our credit card, then we will take matters into our own hands and vote no. We are going to say no more debt, not now."[9][10]

Scott Moody, an economist for the center, wrote a study which ultimately concluded that Maine's debt would leave lawmakers with two options: reduce spending or raise taxes. "Before any new debt is approved, Mainers should insist that legislators deal with these ballooning, unfunded retirement liabilities first and foremost," said Moody.[11]

Media editorial positions

Main article: Endorsements of Maine ballot measures, 2010

Support

  • The Bangor Daily News supported Bond Questions 2, 3, 4 and 5, saying

States, unlike the federal government, are unable to spend into the red. That’s a good thing. But with interest rates at historic lows, these bonds are a bargain for building and rebuilding Maine. They should be passed. [5]

—Bangor Daily News editorial board, [12]

  • The Journal Tribune said,

Last week the Journal Tribune endorsed the four bond issues on Maine’s June 8 ballot. We recommended “Yes” votes on Questions 2-5, proposed bond issues that serve the interests of Maine’s people. [5]

—Journal Tribune editorial board, [13]

Path to the ballot

See also: Maine legislatively-referred state statutes

To place the measure on the ballot, the measure was required to receive at least a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate.

See also

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