Friday, October 30, 2009

I'm gonna vote, are you?

Next Tuesday is the day we vote in Maine on a handful of questions. I have taken the time to read through everything and have formed my own opinions on everything. I will provide you with the questions and would be curious to hear your thoughts, if you are willing to share. Here we go...

Question 1: People's Veto

An Act To End Discrimination in Civil Marriage and Affirm Religious Freedom
"Do you want to reject the new law that lets same-sex couples marry and allows individuals and religious groups to refuse to perform these marriages?"

If you have read previous blogs you know where I stand on this question. Despite what my banner ads reflect, I think this is a no brainer. I'm not really even sure why this is up for debate. Two consenting adults should have the right to get married, regardless of race, religion, bank account size or sexual preference. This isn't special rights we are talking about, it is equal rights. I'm voting No on 1.

Question 2: Citizen Initiative

An Act to Decrease the Automobile Excise Tax and Promote Energy
“Do you want to cut the rate of the municipal excise tax by an average of 55% on motor vehicles less than six years old and exempt hybrid and other alternative-energy and highly fuel-efficient motor vehicles from sales tax and three years of excise tax?”

I am all for hybrid vehicles. In fact, we are researching them now with the idea being that we plan on buying one here in the not too distant future. That being said, I think that the money collected from municipal excise tax is too important to the individual towns, and will only see us paying more in property taxes. Also, it is a bit of a slap in the face to those who can't afford a new car. Somebody that can afford to buy a new car won't pay excise tax, but someone who can't afford that new car has to pay excise tax? How does that make sense?

Question 3: Citizen Initiative

An Act to Repeal the School District Consolidation Laws
“Do you want to repeal the 2007 law on school district consolidation and restore the laws previously in effect?”

I feel as though consolidating schools, especially those in very rural areas offers students more opportunities by pooling the funds from two schools into one. It would cut administrative costs state-wide, meaning more money for classroom instruction, which is the best thing for our kids, in my opinion.

Question 4: Citizen Initiative

An Act to Provide Tax Relief
“Do you want to change the existing formulas that limit state and local government spending and require voter approval by referendum for spending over those limits and for increases in state taxes?”

This bill imposes expenditure limitations on state and local government and requires voter approval of certain state tax increases. Maine voter's rejected TABOR back in 2006, and that was during good economic times. With the economy just now peaking it's head out of the crapper, and many local towns struggling to balance their books, I don't think TABOR makes any sense at all. In Colorado, TABOR lead to slower job growth, delayed economic recovery during periods of recession and cost citizens more money. Colorado lawmakers and voters have since suspended the law for five years in order to restore funding for schools and other basic public services. Does that sound like a good idea for Maine? I didn't think so either.

Question 5: Citizen Initiative

An Act to Establish the Maine Medical Marijuana Act
“Do you want to change the medical marijuana laws to allow treatment of more medical conditions and to create a regulated system of distribution?”

This one is tricky. It has been determined that medicinal marijuana serves a good purpose for those that need it. I think it makes sense to provide those that are in need with a valid and proven method of treatment. I also feel that regulating a system of distribution would not only support this treatment, but would bring in revenue to the state. California is considering legalizing marijuana, and have estimated that the tax benefits are somewhere in the ballpark of $1.5 billion per year! Now, we would be talking much smaller numbers in Maine, but wouldn't that help gap some budget shortfalls right there?

Question 6: Bond Issue

“Do you favor a $71,250,000 bond issue for improvements to highways and bridges, airports, public transit facilities, ferry and port facilities, including port and harbor structures, as well as funds for the LifeFlight Foundation that will make the State eligible for over $148,000,000 in federal and other matching funds?”

Now, spending money right now makes little sense, as Maine is heading further into the red, but hear me out. Spending money on much needed improvements to the states infrastructure is not only good for each and every one of us that commutes every day, visits family in Aroostook County, heads over to the Fryeburg Fair, or vacations in Bar Harbor, but it will help provide much needed work for many people across the state. Heck, failure to keep pace with our infrastructure needs will threaten our state’s economy, both now and in the future.

As you can see, there are a lot of important question on the ballot, and a lot of important things to consider come next Tuesday. I urge you all to go out and vote, regardless of what side you find yourself on. We are very fortunate to have the opportunity to decide what happens, and you throw away your opinion if you don't vote. Be heard, I know I will be. I'm just saying...