Should Maine taxpayers be forced to pay for a dramatic expansion of campaign cash welfare benefits for politicians and would-be politicians?

Why are the wealthy out-of-state donors behind Question 1, bundling and laundering their campaign contributions through tax-exempt nonprofit corporations based in New York and Massachusetts?

Maine people deserve honest, direct answers to these and other questions before Election Day. Instead, backers of this cynical ballot initiative are dodging the tough questions and counting on an expensive media blitz to buy the election. With their campaign war chest well in excess of a million dollars, 80 percent of it from out of state, these well-heeled carpetbaggers have positioned themselves to drown out the rising grassroots resistance to their power grab.

Question 1 would triple the amount of taxpayer-funded campaign cash — so-called “clean election” money — available to legislative candidates. Welfare payments to House candidates who qualify will jump from about $5,000 to $15,000, and from the current $20,000 to $60,000 for state Senate candidates. All that’s required of the candidate is to raise a small amount of campaign cash in token $5 contributions, then pledge to rely solely on the taxpayers for all campaign funding after that.

But the initiative imposes no limits on independent expenditures by special-interest groups such as the out-of-state entities that are writing the big checks to pay for all those “Yes on One” ads. These same dark-money bundlers will be able to continue to spend unlimited amounts propping up (or tearing down) candidates in our elections.

Supporters’ claims that Question 1 will reduce the influence of “big money” in our politics, and make campaign financing more transparent, are whoppers of such magnitude that it almost takes my breath away. Maine voters are not accustomed to that level of cynicism in our politics, and we don’t take kindly to people from away insulting our intelligence.

State government’s resources are limited. That means we have to set priorities, and distinguish wants from needs. This one isn’t even a close call.

After years and years of chronically underfunding our nursing homes to the point that several facilities in rural Maine have closed — imposing enormous emotional and financial burdens on those families — why would anyone choose to prioritize welfare for politicians over the well-being of Maine’s most vulnerable elderly and disabled citizens?

That’s exactly what Question 1 would do. Every dollar of campaign welfare for politicians is one less dollar available from the state’s General Fund to provide needed in-home services for Maine people, many of them veterans, who have languished on the notorious Medicaid waiting lists for years.

Why should Maine taxpayers be forced to pay campaign expenses — meals and travel, lawn signs, annoying radio and TV ads, blizzards of junk mail — for millionaires like Justin Alfond? Heir to the vast fortune amassed by his capitalist grandfather, Alfond helped himself to the full measure of welfare for politicians in his state Senate re-election campaign last year. If Question 1 passes, there will be a much bigger pool of tax dollars for other fabulously wealthy candidates to swim in. And they will gleefully shove granny aside to swim in that pool.

On Nov. 3, Maine voters should just say no to more welfare for politicians, and bid good riddance to the out-of-state dark money behind Question 1.

Vote no on 1. Send the carpetbaggers packing.

Rep. Lawrence Lockman, R-Amherst, is serving his second term in the Maine House of Representatives and serves as the ranking Republican on the Labor, Commerce, Research & Economic Development committee. Email at larrylockman@rivah.net.