This year, every state legislator in Maine is up for re-election. For the past two years, Governor LePage and the Republican-controlled legislature have passed some of the most damaging legislation in Maine history: health care rate hikes for small businesses in rural areas, tax cuts for the wealthy, broken promises to the state worker retirement system, and tens of thousands of low-income Mainers denied the health care they need. Not to mention the fact that they’ve attempted to gut environmental regulations, go backwards on issues important to women and strip away voting rights.
Maine now has the fifth-lowest job growth rate in America. In other words, the economic inequality that has grown over the past four decades is accelerating under LePage and his allies in the legislature.
Here are a few quick facts about economic inequality in Maine:
• The top 1% earns almost as much as the bottom 50% combined.
• The top 10% earns nearly as much as everyone else combined.
• Low income Mainers pay 70% more in state and local taxes than what the richest 1% pay.
• Governor LePage’s tax cuts will give the top 1% nearly $3,000 a year in new tax breaks, while most Mainers will receive less than $100.
• Wal Mart will receive over $1 million every year in tax breaks.
•Maine’s government now actually gives away more in tax breaks than is spent on actual programs.
In other words, our economy works great for the rich and big corporations. It does not work well for the rest of the people in Maine.
It doesn’t have to be this way. We need to elect state legislators in Augusta that will stand up to Governor LePage and fight to make the economy work for everyone.
That’s why MPA is launching a new campaign: The Fair Share Economy. It’s our vision for actual policies that will turn our economy around, make things more fair, and give everyone an opportunity to succeed.
The Fair Share Economy is based on a simple principle: jobs, health care, and education are human rights.
The policies the plan includes will fix unemployment, make sure everyone has the health care they need, provide free universal public education from pre-K through college and give 70% of Mainers a tax break.
The state can pay for this by making our tax system more fair. Under the fair share plan, while the bottom 70% of households in Maine will see their taxes decreased, the top 30% will see a gradual increase in their taxes based on how much they make.
If you support an economy where everyone pays their fair share and everyone has a fair shot, now is the time to vote for candidates that have earned an MPA Campaign Vote! endorsement.
If you’re talking to a local candidate, tell them that you support a Fair Share Economy.
Here are the details about MPA’s vision for a Fair Share Economy:
• The Job Creation Fund: There is plenty of work to do in Maine - and plenty of workers willing to do it. By raising taxes on the wealthy, a $1 billion Job Creation Fund can be created to put Mainers to work in key areas of the economy. Over ten thousand people will be able to repair our roads, renovate old schools, and improve our health care system; important work that we should already be doing. Additionally, the managers of this fund will report to the legislature and will actually have the resources to develop a unified jobs policy for Maine. Rather than giving out tax breaks to corporations that may or may not ever create jobs, this body can manage Maine’s job incentives directly to ensure transparency and accountability in how taxpayer dollars are spent.
• Raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour to get closer to a living wage. It’s not enough to just create jobs. They need to pay enough to live on. Unfortunately, minimum wage workers in Maine now make only about $15,000 a year - far too low to save any money, buy a home, or even cover emergency medical bills. Raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour will help workers at the bottom, it will help push wages higher for everyone, and it will put more money into the economy and give a boost to struggling small businesses throughout the state.
• Publicly-financed health care. Instead of having private health insurance companies come between us and our doctors, Maine deserves a single-payer system where everyone pays in and everyone gets the care they need. Maine’s neighbor, Vermont, has recently passed legislation that has put them on this path. A decade ago, the Maine legislature came up just a few votes shy of passing a system like that here. It would function exactly as Medicare does, except everyone would be eligible.
• Universal education: pre-k through college. Study after study shows that children who go to pre-K, and students who graduate from college have by far the most economically secure futures in America. Far too many families can’t afford either. For those families with children, if you didn’t have to worry about paying for your three and four year-old’s child care, or worry about saving for their college tuition and instead knew they could get a fair opportunity.
• How to pay for it: making taxes fair. There is quite a bit of difference between what people pay in taxes now, versus what they would pay in a fair share plan. Low-income Mainers pay far more of their income in taxes than anyone else. The rest of Mainers essentially pay a flat tax of around 11% (not counting the top 1%, but they pays less - closer to 9%.). Flat taxes are regressive, because it is much harder for a person to pay that rate when they are struggling to afford their mortgage - rather than struggling to pay for their yacht. That’s why tax rates should go up with income: the more someone makes, the higher their rate should be.
To be clear, this plan isn’t just about adjusting income taxes. The plan consists of the overall state and local effective tax rates, which includes all the state and local taxes we pay: property taxes, sales taxes, income taxes, and excise taxes. Increasing or decreasing income taxes would probably be the easiest way to adjust the overall rates people are paying, but the important goal is the adjustment of overall rates. That’s the only way to understand what the real effect of taxes are on family budgets.
Please visit us online or call one of our offices to get involved! There’s a lot more work to do to make sure that the right leaders are elected and sent to Augusta to fight for a Fair Share Economy. The wealthy and large corporations have huge amounts of money to spend against the interests of the middle class, but united we can win.