Monday roundup: Poll shows support for higher taxes; Nancy Pelosi endorses Emily Cain for Congress … in 2016

Are you sick of poll results yet? These aren’t about the Nov. 4 election, I promise.

Days before the election, the Bangor Daily News released the results of a BDN/Ipsos poll conducted between October 23 and 29 of more than 1,000 Maine residents, including 946 registered voters and 488 likely voters. You’ve read about some of the data before but there were a couple of questions we asked that weren’t reported in the frenzy around Election Day and which remain. They involve Medicaid expansion, local taxes and some state-run social service programs.

One of the questions was about local property taxes, which are sure to be a major issue in the upcoming legislative session.

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Republican Gov. Paul LePage spent much of his first term seeking to build a wall between state and local revenues, including proposing to eliminate municipal revenue sharing, which the state has long provided to towns and cities statewide to help fund key services and reduce pressure on property taxes. LePage has also cut funding to towns and cities by leading an effort to shift a portion of teacher retirement costs to the local level as well as withholding reimbursements in the general assistance program from towns and cities who won’t or can’t verify applicants’ citizenship status.

The effect of those measures in many municipalities has been increases in property taxes — which are collected locally — to make up the difference. LePage told the BDN recently that he intends to propose that municipal revenue sharing money be sent directly from the state to property taxpayers themselves, bypassing the town in an effort to put pressure on municipal leaders to cut funding.

The BDN/Ipsos poll showed mixed results about whether that approach will work. While strong percentages of survey respondents said they would support local tax increases for schools and essentials like police and fire services, there was far less support for spending on quality-of-life improvements in towns and cities such as libraries and recreation sites.

BDN/Ipsos also asked about spending for social services programs and found a remarkably even split among those who think the programs are too generous and others who think they’re not generous enough. Only about 22 percent of respondents said state-administered social services were “just about right.”

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One final tidbit from the poll: There is still far more support among Mainers for expanding Medicaid under the provisions of the Federal Affordable Care Act than there is opposition, though there is no imaginable scenario for expanding Medicaid in Maine while LePage is in office.

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Pelosi endorses Emily Cain for 2nd Congressional District … in 2016?

Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud gave up his 2nd Congressional District seat for his unsuccessful run for the governor’s office. Adding to the sting of Michaud’s defeat for Democrats (and elation for Republicans) is that the seat he held for six terms was won by Republican Bruce Poliquin, who defeated state Sen. Emily Cain by more than five percentage points in a three-way race that saw conservative independent Blaine Richardson tally 11 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results compiled by the BDN. Without Richardson in the race, Poliquin would likely have gone well past 50 percent support in the election.

Regardless, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, led by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, has already begun recruiting for the 2016 elections and Cain is already on their list, according to a recent article in Roll Call. Much like at the state level, Congressional Democrats will be looking forward to 2016 in their hopes of reversing Republican gains on Capitol Hill in recent years.

Maine Republican Party Executive Director Jason Savage used the Roll Call piece in a fund raising email on Monday.

“For liberals like Pelosi and Cain, elections never stop,” wrote Savage. “Before Bruce has even officially taken office, they are already painting a target on his back and working to install an extreme liberal to replace him in 2016.”

Cain has not said whether she’ll try again for the seat.


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Christopher Cousins

About Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins has worked as a journalist in Maine for more than 15 years and covered state government for numerous media organizations before joining the Bangor Daily News in 2009.