What if I told you I got Terry Hayes, Janet Mills, and Paul LePage to all agree on something? It would have to be pretty non-controversial, right? Something like “Maine should have good roads.”
Let’s say we got Shawn Moody, John Baldacci, former Maine Supreme Court Chief Justice Dan Wathen, Alan Caron, and former Secretary of State (and current Democratic state senator) Bill Diamond to join in as well? Think they would all say “blueberries are delicious”?
OK. Let’s go for broke. We’ve now got the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, Home Care and Hospice Alliance of Maine, Bangor Daily News, Portland Press Herald, and Maine Association of Community Service Providers on board. In this political environment, I’d call it a win if we could get them all to agree “water is wet.”
So what mythical issue could bring all these disparate groups together?
This year’s Question 1. While everyone takes a different road, they all lead to the same destination: a “No” vote on your November ballot.
There are plenty of reasons why “no” is the way to go. It will make Maine the highest taxed state in the nation, with a near 11 percent rate on some incomes burying small businesses and Maine families. While the advocates who wrote the proposed law deny it, every unbiased assessment agrees it will hit households. Maybe that is not their actual goal, but they wrote it; if it passes, that will be the law on the books.
Yet the lawyers who concocted the language spent plenty of time focusing on other goals. Read the actual text. If it passes, by law, Maine will add thousands — and thousands — of new state employees.
If it passes, the personal information of Maine seniors — including names and home addresses — will be required to be given to private, non-governmental lobbying organizations. For “organizing” purposes.
And, for a kicker, it will give up to $310 million in tax dollars — every year — to an organization unaccountable to either the Legislature or the governor.
There are plenty of reasons why a “no” vote is appropriate, but “Maine seniors don’t need help” isn’t one of them. And that is really the crux of the issue. The campaign pushing this proposal is trying to create a false narrative that opponents are somehow “against” helping seniors. Yet, if you accept that as true, it means the last governor, the current governor, and the next governor — whoever it is — are all arrayed against elderly Mainers. It doesn’t pass the straight-face test.
What is more important to you, clean water or in-home care for seniors? Resources are finite; how much should we spend on roads, or bridges, or education, or in-home care, or helping disabled Mainers, or expanding Medicaid?
Trying to balance all of these competing priorities is an incredible challenge. All are important, and you have a chance to choose your representative and senator to grapple with them. Whoever gets elected, let them know where you rank the priorities facing our state. If they do a bad job, kick them out in two years.
So, if you vote “no” and it carries the day, Maine may finally get a respite from these continual ballot questions. The interest groups who bankroll these efforts — with more than half their money coming from out-of-state — may find their funders less inclined to play politics with our policies. This could give the next Legislature and governor breathing room to come up with some well-thought out solutions, rather than play whack-a-mole with poorly written referendums.
So stand with former Gov. Baldacci. nd Gov. LePage. And Gov.-to-be Moody or Caron or Mills or Hayes. Blueberries are delicious, water is wet, and the right vote on Question 1 is “no.”
That should be pretty non-controversial.