Commentary

What’s next for progressives after Universal Home Care?

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I have a hunch.

This late summer or fall, after Labor Day but before Election Day, progressives in Maine will submit paperwork to the Secretary of State to circulate petitions for a 2019 ballot question. They will do this while we are all distracted by (and sick of) the final throes of political season leading up to this year’s election.

Once the progressive powers that be get approval from the Secretary of State to circulate their petitions in time for Election Day, they will dispatch all of their “volunteers” to every polling place in the State of Maine to gather a significant portion of the signatures they need to qualify for next year’s ballot.

The rest of the signatures they need to qualify will be gathered by (mostly) paid staff, funded by (mostly) out of state money.

And when they qualify for the ballot, they will hold a press conference announcing their herculean “grassroots” effort by the “people of Maine.” The efforts, bought and paid for by outside interests, will be spun as homegrown and of last resort due to the inaction of our “do-nothing” government.

Of course, the question they will ask Maine voters to support will undoubtedly require that same “do-nothing” government to provide a grand solution to some “urgent problem” that is somehow exacerbated by wealth, business, and conservatives everywhere.

They will run an out-of-state funded, sophisticated political campaign through election year to push a progressive or socialist government scheme that will not mention how it’s supposed to be funded. And if the initiative unfortunately passes at the ballot box, regardless of voter turnout or margin of victory, it will be touted as “the will of the voters.”

Any resistance, criticism, recommended changes, delay of implementation, or general questioning of the new law’s legal implications, will be considered a sacrilege of the highest order that is on par with treason.

Then, that same “do-nothing” government will have to clean up the unintended consequences of the new law to make it constitutional, put the proper framework in place to implement it or try to find the funds to pay for it. By the time they get that figured out (when and if the time comes), it will be time to do it all over again for the next (mostly) out-of-state funded ballot question.

What ballot question do you think they will be hawking this year, you might ask?

I’ve got a hunch on that too.

My guess is either a universal child care program, much like what is described in LD 1612, which is essentially the second half of this year’s Question 1 (Universal Home Care); or

A paid family medical leave act, something very similar to LD 1587 or what was recently implemented in Massachusetts.

Regardless of subject matter, you can guarantee the initiative will raise taxes, burden hardworking Mainers and leave the Maine Legislature reeling to fix the mistake.

Then we’ll waste the majority of another legislative session cleaning up the mess caused by the outside interests that brought us the initiative in the first place.

About Mike Quatrano

Mike Quatrano is the Director of Civic Engagement at the Maine Heritage Policy Center, overseeing MHPC's grassroots activist network and collaboration with the state legislature.

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