• Become an SSTI Member

    As the most comprehensive resource available for those involved in technology-based economic development, SSTI offers the services that are needed to help build tech-based economies.  Learn more about membership...

  • Subscribe to the SSTI Weekly Digest

    Each week, the SSTI Weekly Digest delivers the latest breaking news and expert analysis of critical issues affecting the tech-based economic development community. Subscribe today!

Ballots 2013: Medical Research Tax in MO, Bond Funding for STEM Facilities in ME

October 31, 2013

Only six states have statewide measures on the ballot in 2013, which is 28 percent fewer than the average number of measures on the ballot in an odd-numbered year, as noted by Ballotpedia's executive editor. Tech-based economic development measures will be decided in at least two states — Missouri and Maine. Although not a statewide measure, Jackson County, MO, voters will be asked to approve a sales tax of one-half of 1 percent for 20 years to fund medical research and discovery across Kansas City. Maine voters will be asked to approve a $15.5 million bond to upgrade classrooms and labs within the University of Maine System.

Supporters refer to the ballot measure in Jackson County, MO, as a transformational tax that would produce an estimated $40 million a year for an institute charged with turning research, or basic lab discoveries, into treatments and cures, reports the Kansas City Business Journal. Question 1 on the ballot asks voters to approve a sales tax for the purpose of establishing a medical R&D institute serving as a collaborative effort involving area hospitals and universities, including the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute.

Opponents of the measure have questioned why taxpayers in one particular county should shoulder the financial burden. For several years, Gov. Jay Nixon, lawmakers and life sciences advocates tried to enact a statewide effort for funding science-based businesses, called the Missouri Science and Innovation Reinvestment Act or MOSIRA. The measure, which would create a funding source to invest in science and tech-based startups, ultimately was passed and signed into law in 2011. However, after a lengthy legal process, the state Supreme Court unanimously ruled the act violated a state constitutional requirement (March 20, 2103 issue of the Digest). While the Jackson County ballot initiative is not a replacement for MOSIRA, it has drawn comparisons from those involved in the life sciences community.

In Maine, voters will decide on a $15.5 million bond to renovate and upgrade labs and other STEM facilities at all seven campuses within the University of Maine System. University officials said in a news article that the projects are meant to target facilities used for high-growth academic programs, and upgrading the programs is critical to staying competitive. Another measure, if approved, would issue $4.5 million in bonds to provide funds for a public-private partnership to build a new science facility at Maine Maritime Academy, which is expected to total $14 million. View the ballot questions: http://www.maine.gov/sos/cec/elec/upcoming.html.

Maine, Missouri