Diamond: What is on the ballot

State Senator Bill Diamond

By Bill Diamond

State Senator

Next Tuesday, in addition to voting for president, U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, State Senate, State Representative and various local offices, you will have the opportunity to weigh in on one referendum question and four bond issues.

This week I’d like to give you a little more information on those five questions. I believe that an informed voter will make wise decisions, so I’m not going to tell you how I think you should vote, but just lay out the facts and let you make your own decisions.

Question 1 is the “gay marriage referendum.” If you have a TV or radio I’m sure you have heard about this issue.  The question reads as follows: “Do you want to allow the State of Maine to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples?”

This is a citizen-initiated referendum, meaning that it was put on the ballot through a petition process, and a “Yes” vote will mean that same sex couples will be able to marry in Maine, and a “No” vote means that the current prohibition will remain in place. An interesting provision of this law is that it will not force members of the clergy or places of worship to perform or hold such marriages if they go against their religious beliefs.

The other four statewide questions all concern state borrowing through bonds.

Question 2 on the ballot is a bond for higher education, and it reads: “Do you favor an $11,300,000 bond issue to provide funds for capital to build a diagnostic facility for the University of Maine System; for capital improvements and equipment, including machine tool technology, for the Maine Community College System; and for capital improvements and equipment at the Maine Maritime Academy?”

This bond will be used to improve the facilities at Maine’s state institutions for higher learning.

Question 3 is a bond concerning the “Land for Maine’s Future Fund.” It reads: “Do you favor a $5,000,000 bond issue to purchase land and conservation easements statewide from willing sellers for public land and water access, conservation, wildlife or fish habitat and outdoor recreation, including hunting and fishing and deer wintering areas, and to preserve working farmland and working waterfronts to be matched by at least $5,000,000 in private and public contributions?”

This bond will be used to acquire land, through either outright purchase or through easements, to preserve farmlands, working waterfronts and recreational areas for future generations, and protect them from development.

Question 4 is the largest bond at $51.5 million, and it is the transportation bond. It will be used to maintain and repair our roads, highways, bridges, railroads, airports and ports, and purchase busses and emergency helicopters. If approved it will bring in the most matching funds  — at least $105.6 million.

It reads: “Do you favor a $51,500,000 bond issue for improvements to highways and bridges, local roads, airports and port facilities, as well as for funds for rail access, transit buses and the LifeFlight Foundation, which will make the state eligible for at least $105,600,000 in federal and other matching funds?”

Finally, Question 5 is the clean water bond. This bond would invest in the construction, expansion and repair of drinking water and wastewater treatment systems. This bond has the highest match rate for federal funds, bringing in a total of almost $40 million in federal funds.

It reads: “Do you favor a $7,925,000 bond issue to be expended over two years for revolving loan funds for drinking water systems and for wastewater treatment facilities, which will make the state eligible to secure $39,625,000 in federal grants?”

These issues are all important to the future of Maine.  Question 1 deals with a very important social issue. The bonds will modernize Maine’s deteriorating economic infrastructure and bring needed jobs, but will also bring debt. Think hard about how you will vote on Tuesday, but above all make sure that you get out and vote. It is far too important a privilege to ignore.

Senator Bill Diamond is a resident of Windham, and serves the District 12 communities of Casco, Frye Island, Raymond, Standish, Windham and Hollis.

Please follow and like us: