Democrats to Republicans: Time to Balance Budget, Roll Back LePage/ 125th Legislature’s Unfunded “Tax Cuts for Wealthy”
Democratic legislators urged their Republican colleagues on Wednesday to “delay tax breaks for the wealthy” as a means of helping balance the budget and avoid property tax hikes. The unfunded tax breaks, passed two years ago, were championed by Governor Paul LePage and the 125th GOP-controlled Legislature.
- “In order to pay for a tax break that largely benefits the wealthy, Governor LePage’s budget increases property taxes on the middle class and working people, on seniors and small businesses, on homeowners and renters,” said Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick. “Putting these tax breaks for the wealthy on hold is the responsible option, we can’t just pass the buck.”
Eves continued, “The question before us is not whether we raise taxes or not; but instead, will we raise taxes on working and middle class people, on our seniors and small businesses? Or can we simply agree that right now Maine can’t afford an unfunded tax break for the wealthy?”
More than 60 towns and school districts have signed resolutions against the LePage budget. The Maine Municipal Association says the LePage budget is a $424 million shift to municipalities and property taxpayers.
Delaying the entire tax cut, including the income tax and estate tax changes, would restore more than $400 million in revenues. Delaying the tax breaks was recommended by the Taxation Committee (PDF) after months of public hearings on the budget and tax proposals.
“Now is not the time for tax cuts that we can’t afford. Our economy simply isn’t growing at a pace to be able to afford a tax break that will primarily benefit the wealthy,” said Senate President Justin Alfond, D-Portland. “We need a budget that reflects Maine values, and a budget that we can afford. Raising the property taxes of working Mainers to pay for tax cuts for the rich is neither.”
The tax cuts passed in 2011 provides the top one percent, those earning more than $350,000 per year, a tax cut of almost $3,000, while middle income families will see a return of a little more than $100, according to the Maine Center for Economic Policy.
Maine Republican Party Chairman Rich Cebra, a former member of the 125th GOP Legislature, pounced immediately with a mass fear-mongering fundraising email. Some portions:
- Liberal Taxation Committee Revives Tax Hikes Of Past In Committee Recommendations
The old saying, that you “can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig” is certainly true in Augusta with Democrats in control. They are up to the same old tactics they have been practicing for 40 plus years, and the Maine Republican Party is speaking out.
In a letter to the Appropriations Committee, the Democrat controlled taxation committee has proposed putting some new lipstick on the same old pig and trying to trick you into thinking they have new ideas. They don’t. The letter contains a heavy dose of rhetoric for a legislative committee, as well as recommendations for a massive middle class tax hike.
In short, Democrats have just said that they don’t care about pro-growth tax reform, they don’t care about middle class Maine people, they don’t care about Maine’s small businesses, and they don’t care about making government more affordable. In fact, all they do care about is taking as much of your money as possible, and taking it as quickly and efficiently as possible. If that means putting new lipstick on the same old pig, that’s what they’re going to do, and it’s what they just did.
Pretty fiery stuff- except the facts do not fall on the side of Cebra and the GOP. From 2011:
Included in the budget is a provision that would raise the retirement age of public workers from 62 to 65, cut Maine’s prescription drug and health coverage for working parents program, end $400 of property tax relief for more than 75,000 middle-income Maine households, and freeze cost of living adjustments for state employee retirees — which already provides a meager average pension of only $18,500 per year.
Yet at the same time, LePage is pushing through hundreds of millions of dollars of tax cuts. While most Mainers will receive a tax cut under the governor’s plan, the lion’s share of the cuts will go to the wealthiest of state residents.
Here is MECEP’s analysis: