Referendum defense

To the Editor:

Some are asking why there has been an uptick in citizen referendums. That’s easy. The state government is divided and tied in knots on issues important to the people.

MaineCare expansion was passed by a legislative majority five times but vetoed each time by the governor. And then the legislature wouldn’t override the vetoes. So it was finally taken to referendum, and the people voted it in this past November with 59 percent of the vote. And now the governor and some legislators are working overtime to block it regardless of that huge majority vote.

The state government has never gotten to the required 55 percent in education funding, so that was taken to referendum.

People want a better voting system. It was introduced in the legislature three times, and it didn’t get it done. Then when ranked-choice voting finally did get enacted through a referendum, Augusta ultimately blocked it.

People want a higher minimum wage. Augusta didn’t act, so the people did. Last June, the state government was needlessly sent into shutdown due to it being tied in partisan knots. The list goes on.

People are fed up with the partisanship in Augusta that has stymied effective legislating on a host of issues important to them. So they have appropriately used their longstanding constitutional right of direct democracy to take these issues to the ballot box. The voters have spoken on these referendums, and they do not like their votes being blocked in Augusta. It’s that simple.

Ron Bilancia


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