Mainers approved a proposal Tuesday to expand the state’s public campaign financing system and passed two bond issues for $100 million for senior housing and transportation projects.
The proposal to revitalize the Maine Clean Election Act, Question 1, was leading 55-45 percent, with 83 percent of precincts reporting.
The senior housing bond, Question 2, had a 70-30 percent margin. Question 3, the transportation bond, was ahead 73-27 percent.
Approved by voters in 1996, the Maine Clean Election Act allows candidates running for the Legislature or governor to receive public campaign financing in exchange for agreeing to forgo private donations. Question 1 will increase the total pool of money available to the Maine Clean Elections program and increase the potential disbursements to candidates while allowing them to collect additional $5 donations.
The initiative will also require organizations behind political advertisements to disclose the top three donors to the ads and increase penalties for candidates who violate Maine’s campaign finance laws.
One of two state-level campaign finance initiatives on ballots around the country this year, supporters claim the measure will help reduce the influence of outside groups or well-funded special interests on Maine elections while strengthening accountability and transparency.
“Today, Mainers sent a message loud and clear: We want transparency, we want a government accountable to everyday people, and we want a strong public-financing clean election law that puts voters in control of our democracy – not wealthy special interests and high-paid lobbyists,” said Andrew Bossie, executive director of Maine Citizens for Clean Elections , who led the Question 1 campaign with the political action committee Mainers for Accountable Elections. “With tonight’s victory, that’s exactly what we will get.”
Some critics of the initiative, including Gov. Paul LePage, called the campaign “welfare for politicians” while the Maine State Chamber of Commerce and various business groups opposed funding the expansion by eliminating tax incentive programs.
Mainers also cast ballots on two bond issues.
Question 2 authorizes the state to borrow $15 million via the sale of general obligation bonds to help pay for the construction of new energy-efficient affordable homes for low-income seniors, as well as the repair or weatherization of the homes of low-income seniors. Question 3, meanwhile, authorizes $85 million in bonds for transportation projects such as road construction, bridge repairs and railroad infrastructure investments.