SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — Progressives and home care workers are launching a referendum campaign to provide access to universal in-home care through a tax hike.

The Maine People’s Alliance on Wednesday said the campaign will need 61,123 signatures by early next year to qualify for the 2018 ballot.

The campaign says that the number of Mainers over age 65 is expected to double by 2030, with thousands more seniors requiring aging services.

The referendum proposes a 1.9 percent payroll tax increase for employees and employers on salaries and wages over $127,000.

U.S. Army veteran Skip Worcester said his veteran’s health plan only covers short-term in-home treatment.

Organizers hope the initiative will address the shortage of home health aides in Maine by increasing wages and training.

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