Council for Citizens Against Government Waste State Ballot Measure Guide | Council For Citizens Against Government Waste

Council for Citizens Against Government Waste State Ballot Measure Guide

The WasteWatcher

Voters in Colorado, Maine, and Texas will consider ballot measures on Tuesday, November 7, 2023, on which the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) has taken a position.  The Maine and Texas initiatives will determine the fate of public and private investments in the energy grid and broadband.  While a pair of measures in Texas would complement each other by creating a constitutional barrier shielding public funding for these priorities from re-appropriation by future legislative sessions, one of the measures in Maine would create a new, quasi-governmental energy utility that would control 97 percent of the power distribution, while the other would limit the ability of any public utility to issue debt without public approval.

Energy Infrastructure

Maine Question 1

CCAGW Position: Support 

Maine Question 1 would require a statewide public referendum to approve any debt issuance by a public utility, including the proposed Pine Tree Power Company (See Question 3), in excess of $1 billion. This gives voters more control over large-scale energy grid projects, holds state-controlled utilities accountable to the public that ultimately finances them, and protects taxpayers and ratepayers from financial losses and unsustainable debt deals.

Maine Question 3

CCAGW Position: Oppose

Maine Question 3 proposes to create a new quasi-governmental Pine Tree Power Company empowered to use eminent domain to seize the state’s two private utility companies, giving the new company control of 97 percent of Maine’s power market and costing taxpayers up to $13.5 billion in debt that will take decades to pay off.  Labor leaders, state lawmakers, and Governor Janet Mills (D) oppose Question 3 out of concern about the high cost that could lead to higher electricity bills for ratepayers or worse service and the possibility of political interference in grid investment decisions. 

Texas Proposition 7

CCAGW Position: Support

Texas Proposition 7 would create a fund dedicated to energy grid modernization and resiliency. It would empower the Public Utility Commission to provide loans and grants to finance or incentivize the construction, maintenance, and operation of electric generating facilities, including associated infrastructure.  The measure would not directly provide any funding, but revenues pre-allocated to the fund by 2023 Senate Bill 2627 would be protected from future cuts.  This would help to speed up grid modernization, stimulate private investment, and create jobs and could also help reduce electricity rates in the long term by substituting outdated equipment with energy-efficient replacements.


Texas Proposition 8

CCAGW Position: Support

Texas Proposition 8 would create a fund to finance broadband network buildout over the next decade, helping all Texans access high-speed internet.  The fund would focus on underserved and unserved areas, where speeds fall below 100/20 Mbps and 25/3 Mbps, respectively.  The measure is technology and vendor neutral, making no distinction between fiber-optic and wireless projects providing more broadband options for Texans in unserved communities.  By expanding access to broadband, Proposition 8 would help attract new businesses and industries, provide students with access to online learning resources, help teleworkers stay productive, and allow patients access to remote healthcare services.


Texas Proposition 3

CCAGW Position: Support

Proposition 3 would amend the Texas constitution to prohibit the taxation of wealth.  Wealth taxes are recurrent taxes on an individual’s wealth, net of debt.  The well-documented record of wealth taxes shows that they reduce the tax base by driving those households and businesses out of the state who contribute the most to the public coffers, discourage investments and job creation, and raise bureaucratic tax enforcement costs.  Texas Proposition 3 would prevent this capital-flight spiral and protect Texans’ economic liberty by constitutionally forbidding state-level wealth taxes.  

Colorado Proposition II

CCAGW Position: Oppose

Colorado Proposition II would eliminate a tax rebate required by the state’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) for users of tobacco and nicotine products, with the revenue going to the state's universal preschool (UPK) program.  The tax hike would disproportionately harm low-income Coloradans, expand the black market for smuggled tobacco products, and drive business out of the state.  The tax also lumps cigarettes together with tobacco harm reduction alternatives.  Even though the UPK program is already fully funded to the level approved by 2020 Proposition EE, it nevertheless ranks among the lower-quality preschool systems in the nation.  Colorado should retain the TABOR rebate or spend its tax dollars on more effective educational programs.