Good morning from Augusta, where former Gov. John Baldacci bucked his Democratic Party again on a referendum question, saying he opposes Question 2 on the November ballot.
The question, which would tax income over $200,000 at 3 percent to increase K-12 public education funding, is backed by Stand Up for Students, a progressive coalition led by the Maine Education Association, the union that represents most Maine public school teachers.
In 2004, voters passed a referendum directing the state to pay for 55 percent of “Essential Programs and Services,” the state’s estimate for minimum school funding by district. But that hasn’t been met, and this year’s referendum aims to fix it.
But conservatives including Gov. Paul LePage and business groups have opposed the question, saying it would harm competitiveness by raising taxes.
That argument found favor with Baldacci, who said “taxes are too high” and that while proponents’ case for more education funding is strong, “the way they’re going about it is not going to be helpful to the state.”
“In a lot of cases, the businesses looking to expand or locate look at the differences between what Maine is doing and what New Hampshire is doing and I think it could be not helpful in that regard,” he said Wednesday on WGAN.
It’s not the first time that the fiscally conservative two-term governor has come out against a referendum largely backed by his party. He also opposed last year’s expansion of Maine’s taxpayer-funded election system, which passed at the ballot boxes anyway.
That news came as the dueling sides on the tax-education spending referendum are further entrenching themselves this week.
Business groups will hold news conferences in Portland and Brewer on Thursday outlining their opposition to Question 2, which would tax income over $200,000 to increase K-12 education funding. Appearing will be Dana Connors, president of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, former LePage adminstration education chiefs Jim Rier and Stephen Bowen and Waterville Mayor Nick Isgro.
And Wednesday, Stand Up for Students announced more endorsements from progressive small businesses. — Michael Shepherd
- Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine will be in Cape Elizabeth for a fundraiser on Thursday. Hillary Clinton’s campaign only confirmed a private Maine event, but three Democratic sources told me it’ll be at the Cape Elizabeth home of Bonnie Porta, a member of Clinton’s high-dollar national finance committee. It’s a private event, but what would you ask him if you could? Send questions, ideas or tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- We’ll have another chance to hear from LePage (on talk radio). On Wednesday, WGAN morning show hosts Matthew Gagnon and Ken Altshuler said that the Republican governor will be making a regular Thursday appearance on their show starting Oct. 6. Talk radio has become a bigger part of LePage’s communication strategy as his relationship with journalists has deteriorated in 2016. Earlier this month, he told reporters he won’t talk to the media again, but he makes regular (and friendly) appearances with Ric Tyler and George Hale on WVOM and Ray Richardson on WLOB.
- Proponents of expanded gun background checks enlisted a former Republican U.S. attorney for a new TV ad. Paula Silsby, who served during the Bush administration, has been vocal on this issue for years, flagging issues with criminals trafficking Maine guns in 2009. She’s in the second for Mainers for Responsible Gun Ownership, the group backed by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety. It’s squaring off against the National Rifle Association on Question 3 on Maine’s November ballot. — Michael Shepherd
- Under new plan, small Maine solar generators would slowly lose credits — Darren Fishell, Bangor Daily News
- Democratic VP hopeful Tim Kaine to hold Maine fundraiser — Michael Shepherd, BDN
- Green Party’s Jill Stein visits UMaine, seeks Sanders supporters — Judy Harrison, BDN
- LePage to meet recovering mom who says it’s wrong to punish people for addiction — Christopher Cousins, BDN
- Who should pay when a drunken driver injures someone so badly he can no longer work? — Beth Brogan, BDN
- Sheriff apologizes for releasing photos of Muslim protesters without their hijabs — Dan Macleod with Jake Bleiberg, BDN
- No one shows at hearing for Maine welfare-to-work program changes — Cousins
- Clinton server technicians decline questions from Congress — Jonathan Allen, Reuters
Best of Maine’s Craigslist
- To the point: “I am looking for someone who would like to talk and get to know each other,” says a woman who bills herself as “48, Single, and Attractive. Interested?”
- Yes, let’s: A 20-year-old man just moved to Winslow and is “bored as shit and I have no money. Let’s see the response I get.” He doesn’t say what he’s looking for, but here’s his soundtrack.
- Do you want to pay $800 for a Magic: The Gathering card?: No, you probably don’t. But this is apparently a good deal. — Michael Shepherd