A late surge of large campaign donations is pouring into both camps of a controversial ballot question that would raise taxes to pay for home health care, with the opposition group No On Question One nearly doubling its fundraising to about $1 million.

At the same time, the primary PAC supporting Question 1, Mainers for Homecare, also nearly doubled its fundraising to a total of $939,316, according to reports filed Friday with the state ethics commission.

Mainers for Homecare reported a $250,000 contribution from the Omidyar Network, a California-based philanthropic investment firm created by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife, Pam; $200,000 from the Maine People’s Resource Center; and $35,000 from the Maine People’s Alliance, which is the architect of the ballot measure.

If passed, Question 1 would require Mainers and their employers to split an additional 3.8 percent tax on adjusted gross wage income above $128,400 a year to subsidize the cost of in-home care for the state’s elderly and disabled residents. Other income such as capital gains also would be taxed at 3.8 percent above the $128,400 threshold. It is estimated that the new tax would generate about $310 million a year from roughly 60,000 Maine households for the universal home care program.

All Maine candidates, ballot question committees and political action committees must report how much money they’ve raised and spent between Oct. 1 and Oct. 23 with the state ethics commission by midnight Friday.

The No on Question One campaign raised $380,421 in the reporting period, bringing the total raised to $924,987. The campaign has unleashed a wave of advertising, with more than $530,000 spent on television ads, $100,000 on radio ads and $50,000 on newspaper ads in the reporting period.


Major No on Question One contributors include national and Maine businesses interests, including $50,000 from the Maine Association of Realtors, $45,000 from the National Association of Realtors, $30,000 from the Maine Hospital Association, $25,000 each from the Maine Real Estate Information System, Harborside Hotel and Marina in Portsmouth and the Maine Automobile Dealers Association, and $20,000 from Tyler Technologies.

An analysis of Question 1 by Maine Revenue Services and the Office of Fiscal and Program Review found that the combined income of married couples filing jointly would be subject to the $128,400 threshold, or roughly 10 percent of filers, although the referendum’s backers have said their intent is to only tax married couples on combined income that exceeds two times that amount.

In other ballot question campaigns, the state’s university and community college systems reported raising more money for two higher education infrastructure bonds.

Question 4 asks voters whether to approve a $49 million bond for the University of Maine System, and Question 5 asks whether to approve a $15 million bond for the Maine Community College System.

The University of Maine System’s PAC – the Maine Economic Growth Coalition – reported raising $98,121 during the reporting period, including a $25,000 donation from Sodexo, the company holding a five-year dining services contract for the system; and $20,000 donations each from WEX, Cross Financial Services and MaineHealth. It raised a total of $360,211 and spent virtually all of it on television ads, leaving the PAC with $6,623 cash on hand.

The community colleges’ PAC, Citizens for Higher Education, raised $79,975 during the reporting period, including $60,000 from the Foundation for Maine’s Community Colleges, for a total of $147,774 raised. The group spent most of the money on online advertising.

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