The Buffett rule legislation introduced today by House Majority Leader Seth Berry is a step in the right direction and is a good beginning to the conversation on tax fairness. The legislation, which state and national polling shows to be overwhelmingly popular, would help to close Maine's budget gap while making the state's tax structure more fair.
LD 1113, "An Act To Provide Tax Fairness for Maine’s Middle Class and Working Families," would require Mainers with annual incomes of at least $250,000 to pay at least the same average effective state and local tax rate paid by all other taxpayers.
"This common-sense bill to fix our broken tax system would raise around $200 million over the next two years. Along with some other simple and fair legislation like repealing the new estate tax cuts, this bill could help to close the entire budget gap without resorting to the massive property tax increases and cuts to health care and education proposed by Governor LePage," said Maine People's Alliance communications director Mike Tipping.
Last year, Maine Small Business Coalition member Jim Wellehan, owner of Lamey-Wellehan Shoes, supported the Buffet rule in a newspaper op-ed.
"For community-based businesses like mine, paying taxes brings the satisfaction of knowing that we're paying our fair share to support our neighbors, our friends, our customers and our country," wrote Wellehan. "We should pass the Buffet rule in honor of all the ordinary people who work and pay their taxes and are proud of their contributions to their communities."
A recent poll conducted by the Maine People's Resource Center asked Mainers their opinions on the buffet rule. When asked: "In order to strike a deal to solve Maine's budget deficit, would you accept requiring those who make over $250,000 per year to pay at least as high a combined state and local tax rate as the average Mainer, or is this something you would find unacceptable?" 79% of respondents said it would be acceptable, the highest approval of any of the budget options tested in the poll.
The proposal also earned the approval 65.9% of Republicans and majorities of voters who identified themselves as "very conservative" or as members of the Tea Party.
View the MPRC polling results here.
The Wellehan op-ed can be found here.