Governor LePage, Maine Legislature Work to Establish Tax-Free Military Pensions

Posted on March 8, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

DSC_0130Governor Paul R. LePage and a large number of Maine veterans met with press in the governor’s Cabinet Room this past Tuesday to discuss elimination the tax on military pensions, as part of the administration’s FY 2016-17 biennial budget proposal.

If the 127th Legislature passes the measure, Maine will join 22 other states that have already passed similar exemptions for veterans.

According to the governor, about 8,000 Maine veterans would benefit from the exemption. He further added that young military retirees would be encouraged to to come to Maine to begin second careers and that the state’s economy would benefit as retired military members have much to give back to the community when they leave the service.

The following day, the Joint Standing Committee on Taxation unanimously threw their support behind a similar bill to provide an income tax exemption for pension benefits received under a military retirement plan, including survivor benefits. LD 280 “An Act To Exempt Military Pensions and Survivor Benefits from Maine Income Tax” is sponsored by Rep. Phyllis Ginzler (R-Bridgton), who spoke to her bill’s purpose before the committee.

    Rep. Phyllis Ginzler (R-Bridgton)

    Rep. Phyllis Ginzler (R-Bridgton)

    “Exempting these pensions from income tax is the least we can do for these brave men and women,” Rep. Ginzler said. “These are exactly the type of people we want to attract to Maine to live, work or start a business. These are highly skilled people that are sorely needed here and would make a great addition to our state.”

Many veterans spoke in favor of the bill and no one in opposition. As there is overlap between LD 280 and the governor’s budget, it is expected that Taxation will table the bill until it is determined whether or not that portion will pass the Legislature via LR 1852 (the budget). If that does indeed come to pass, Ginzler’s bill will be a duplication and most likely be killed in committee. Taxation Committee members have already expressed a willingness to advance LD 280 as a stand alone measure, if needed.

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Sifting Through the LePage FY 2016/2017 Proposed Budget: DAFS Commissioner Rosen Meets With AFA

Posted on January 25, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

Director of Office of Policy and Management former state senator Richard Rosen (R-Bucksport)

Director of Office of Policy and Management former state senator Richard Rosen (R-Bucksport)

In his first weekly address of the new year, Governor Paul LePage stated that “it is time to take bold action for Maine”.

Boy, he wasn’t kidding.

Within an hour of sending out that missive, it was announced that LePage was nominating Richard Rosen to replace the Sawin Millett as commissioner of the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services (DAFS). Rosen, a former state legislator with four terms in each chamber, had been serving as interim finance commissioner since Millett retired last May.

Rosen met with the Appropriations and Financial Affairs (AFA) Committee this week to discuss the newly released LePage FY 2016/17 biennial budget, including its “modernizing Maine’s tax code” to reduce individual and corporate income tax rates while increasing sales and user taxes, elimination of the estate tax and military pension tax, as well as a two year plan with an end goal of eliminating municipal revenue sharing, which failed wot win support in the previous legislative session.

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(VIDEOS) Maine Governor Paul LePage, Administration Present FY 2016/17 Biennial Budget

Posted on January 13, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

The entire press conference here, in order of speakers.

DAFS Commissioner Richard Rosen will be presenting the budget to the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee later today.

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Weekly Address of Gov. Paul LePage: MMA Revenue Sharing Cut Info “Not Accurate, Completely Self-Serving”

Posted on January 25, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

(Note: The stress within today’s share is mine and not as was sent out to media by the Governor’s office. ~AP)

Audio link here.

lepage officeHello. This is Governor Paul LePage.

Maine is in the middle of a cold spell. With rising prices for heating oil, Mainers are spending more to fill their tanks to keep warm this winter. Gas, groceries, and the basic necessities are increasing forcing Maine families to manage tight budgets.

Furthermore, the federal government takes more from your paycheck. The average family is paying 1000 dollars more in payroll taxes.

I believe Mainers should be able to keep more of their hard-eared money. That’s why I have lowered taxes for the majority of Mainers. 70,000 low income Mainers will not pay income tax this year, and families making an average income of 48-thousand dollars will have about 300 dollars more for their budget.

We simply cannot tax our way to recovery. We cannot continue to increase taxes to fix our welfare problem. And we cannot spend money we do not have.

So-called stimulus dollars from the federal government, or what I consider federal welfare, are gone. Matching funds are being cut. Maine stands to lose $40 million in federal funding for Medicaid in the next two years.

However, we must find a way to pay our bills. We must protect the most vulnerable. The bottom line is we must be frugal with tax dollars and get the best value from the limited resources.

Over the past few weeks, you’ve heard much from the loyal opposition about what they don’t like about my budget proposal, but let me be clear – you haven’t heard any solutions from them.

One of the more challenging pieces to balance the budget is the temporary elimination of revenue sharing to communities.

Unfortunately, information distributed by the Maine Municipal Association is not accurate and completely self-serving. MMA claims that municipalities will lose 284 million over the next two years. What they don’t tell you is in previous years revenue sharing has never been fully funded dating back to my predecessor. While I would like to share more money with towns and cities, we simply do not have it.

In an effort to provide Mainers with an accurate picture of the impact to community budgets we’ve done an analysis. For example, the City of Portland’s budget last year was $291 million. Reducing all of its revenue sharing funding based on past practices amounts to 6 million dollars. This equals 2 percent of the overall city budget.

Last year, Bangor’s budget was about $144 million. The State provided three and a half million – or 3 percent of its budget.

Waterville’s share of State revenue is about 4 percent of its total budget of nearly $41 million. As Mayor of Waterville for 8 years, I was able to balance budgets, while reducing property taxes. Working together with a Democratic City Council, I was able to reduce spending and lower taxes. A temporary loss in revenue sharing does not mean that property taxes will automatically go up. That is a local choice.

It is not impossible for local government to save money, consolidate services and identify priorities. If revenue sharing makes up as little as 2 to 4 percent of community budgets, it is reasonable to request local officials to find alternatives. These are difficult times, we must work together to move Maine forward.

There are many towns and cities across our State that can consolidate services and save money. For instance, Fairfield, Oakland, Waterville and Winslow all are within a 5 mile radius. Each has their own fire and police, schools, public works personnel along with many other duplicative services. Combined these communities are approximately the size of Lewiston.

There are ways for communities to work together. However, home rule or choosing to go at it alone is an expensive choice.

Unfortunately, I do not have many popular options when it comes to balancing a budget. The recent downgrade from Fitch was based primarily on Maine’s growing welfare costs and not paying its bills. The federal government compounds our financial challenges with little flexibility and less funding every year.

Whether it’s the state or federal budget, it’s obvious – times are tough and hard choices need to be made. Until the Legislature makes long-term fixes to welfare in our State our financial problems will continue.

My proposal isn’t perfect, but I am confident it will get us through this crisis.

Thank you for listening.

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(UPDATED) ME Gov LePage, Still Refusing to Meet With Dem Majority Leaders, Sends Out Video Response Addressing Stance on Tax Cuts

Posted on January 3, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

4:45pm Update: Senate President Justin Alfond responded moments ago, via press release:

    Alfond says, “We cannot place politics ahead of serving the people of Maine.”

    Senate President Justin Alfond sent out the following statement in response to a video communication from Governor Paul LePage. In the video, LePage was interviewed by his Communications Director discussing his ideology on Maine tax policy. The video was also circulated by the Committee to Re-Elect Governor Paul LePage. In the interview, LePage and his Communications Director distorted Democratic lawmakers’ position on Maine tax policy.

    justin alfond“We cannot place politics ahead of our responsibility to serve the people of Maine. We have been clear about wanting to work with the Governor and the Republicans. It continues to be our hope that we can start talking from a place where we have common ground,” said President Alfond of Portland. “Unfortunately, the Governor has not returned our requests to meet and discuss the state’s business. We hope in the days that follow that we can sit down with the Governor and engage in a thoughtful conversation about how to move Maine forward.”

    LePage has declined all attempts to meet with Democratic leadership barring one scheduled meeting that was later cancelled by the Governor.
    The Legislature convenes on January 8th.

Watch for yourself.

The accompanying press release:

    Governor LePage Releases Video Discussing Tax Cuts

    AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage speaks out about Maine’s recent tax cuts, the largest tax cuts in State history, in a new video released by the Office of the Governor. In the five minute video, the Governor shares with Mainers facts about the various tax reductions passed during the 125th Legislature that will benefit hundreds of thousands of families and businesses throughout the State.

    The Governor explained that the tax cuts, which were supported by two-thirds of the Legislature, will benefit Mainers of all income levels, “70,000 Mainers with the lowest incomes will not have to pay taxes in the new year. This represents the largest tax cut in Maine history. For Democrats to call this a tax cut for the rich is simply not true.”

    He notes that more than 450,000 taxpayers will see a cut in their taxes in 2013. Taxes charged on meals in retirement homes were also eliminated. “Again, no tax cut for the rich there, just common sense reform that takes a tax burden off some of our most vulnerable Mainers,” Governor LePage noted.

    In the video, the Governor explains how giving businesses targeted tax breaks can in turn stimulate the economy by allowing businesses to invest that money somewhere else, “perhaps on an expansion, new jobs or higher wages.” He asks viewers to consider the concept that “Investment capital goes where it is welcomed, and stays where it is appreciated,” advocating that Maine make structural changes that improve the state’s business climate.

It should be noted that the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee meets tomorrow, 4 days before the 126th Legislature’s first session, to take up the Governor’s recently released $35 million dollar curtailment order, among other business.

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