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Our take on state ballot questions

When Mainers head to the polls next Tuesday, they will be asked to vote on seven statewide ballot initiatives, ranging from the controversial repeal of the gay-marriage law to more mundane matters, such as a request to give town clerks more time to tally petitions.

As our Maine readers consider their votes, we offer our assessment.

Question 1 (gay-marriage law repeal): This editorial board has had no change of heart on the issue of gay marriage. We supported both Maine and New Hampshire efforts to establish their laws, and we now oppose the effort to repeal the law in Maine in the strongest possible terms. Make no mistake: The eyes of the country will be focused on the state next Tuesday. If Mainers vote to keep the law on the books and reject repeal, it will be the first victory at the ballot box for gay marriage. In the states where it's allowed, either the courts or the legislatures have permitted it. We hope next Wednesday morning, the nation sees that Mainers voted on the side of justice. We are a better and more just society when we accord to all the rights that are granted to only to some. Vote NO on Question 1.

Question 2 (cut excise tax): This is a penny-wise and pound-foolish initiative if ever there were one. It sounds great on its face: if you buy a car up to six years-old, your excise tax would be slashed by an average of 55 percent, and you'd pay no excise tax for three years on a hybrid or fuel-efficient car. But the ramifications of this are manifold. Towns will lose those funds from all those new cars — nearly $500,000 in York. That means significant cuts in services or personnel or increases in property taxes. Vote NO on Question 2.

Question 3 (school-consolidation law repeal): The York School District received permission to opt out of this law. Having said that, there was incredibly strong opposition to the law in town during the consolidation process. And, a special school Town Meeting had to be held because of the law, an added expense. The law was another well-intentioned attempt by Gov. John Baldacci that didn't work. We urge a YES vote on Question 3.

Question 4 (TABOR II): State voters in their wisdom rejected the Taxpayer Bill of Rights before; we urge people to remain firm in their opposition this time around. Under TABOR II, Maine government will only be allowed to grow by a formula based on the inflation rate, plus the rate of population growth. And the base year is 2010, by any standard a terrible economic period. So as the economy improves, the state will not be able to rebound as well unless the Legislature asks voters for an override. That will cost, according to the Office of Fiscal and Program Review, $975,000 per special election and an addition $434,400 to notify voters. Maine does not need TABOR. Vote NO on Question 4.

Question 5 (medical marijuana): State voters 10 years ago approved a measure to legalize medical marijuana use by chronically ill people, but the law provided no legal means by which to procure the drug. Question 5 provides that means, by setting up nonprofit dispensaries. Ill people have enough worries. Vote YES.

Question 6 (bond issue): This one is a no-brainer. The state's roads and bridges are in deplorable condition, and the Legislature cut its funding to the Department of Transportation earlier this year. The DOT needs this money if the state's decaying infrastructure is not to fall into even further disrepair. It is a necessary investment in Maine. Moreover, it leverages $148 million in federal and other funds. Vote YES on Question 6.

Question 7 (constitutional amendment): This is another no-brainer. It gives town and city clerks more time to process petitions by residents who want to put a citizen's initiative (such as questions 2 through 5 on the ballot) to a statewide vote. Clerks are responsible for verifying petition signatures, and this measure would increase the window for verification from five to 10 days. Vote YES.

— Seacoast Media Group

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