AUGUSTA (AP) – Two competing tax relief referendum questions and a third “none of the above” option were running close six weeks before the election, according to a poll.

Question 1A, a citizen initiative backed by the Maine Municipal Association, requires the Legislature to raise the state’s share of local education costs from 43 percent to 55 percent without raising taxes. The additional revenue, estimated at $264 million, would be made available to communities by July 1, 2004.

Question 1B is a competing measure crafted by Gov. John E. Baldacci that would phase in the additional state funding over five years. Question 1C allows voters to reject both 1A and 1B.

A poll of 300 people found that 32 percent of the participants favored Question 1A, 35 percent favored Question 1B, and 28 percent preferred Question 1C, said MaryEllen FitzGerald of Critical Insights, a Portland polling firm.

Five percent of the respondents were undecided in the poll, which carried a margin of error of 6 percentage points.

“At the moment, there’s not a lot of strong recognition about what the differences are between the two questions,” said FitzGerald, who plans to poll another 300 Mainers on the issue.

AP-ES-09-23-03 1202EDT

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