On Lobby Day, February 12th, more than a hundred MPA members gathered in the hall of flags to participate in the official launch of the ‘Fair Tax Towns’ campaign. Members joined mayors and town officials in calling for legislators to reject the deep cuts in Governor LePage’s biennial budget in favor of revenue generated by making Maine’s tax system more fair.
The budget, as it currently stands, proposes deep cuts to healthcare, education and other services. Also included in this budget is a $200 million cut to Maine towns, which will force towns to either drastically cut education, municipal services like firefighters and police, or raise property taxes. All so the Governor can protect $400 million in tax cuts that primarily benefit the wealthy. If the wealthy and corporations in our state paid their fair share, there wouldn’t be a budget hole to fill and there would actually be a surplus.
As part of the campaign, members across the state will be presenting resolutions to their town councils and town meetings to reject the cuts in the budget and instead call on legislators to find a solution that includes raising revenue from a fairer tax system. When a critical mass of towns speak out against the budget, legislators in Augusta will get the message. Already the cause has been taken up by more volunteers in more than 50 towns and four towns, Hallowell, South Portland, Lewiston and Presque Isle, have already passed resolutions.
Hallowell Mayor Charlotte Warren spoke at the event, noting that the proposed cuts would leave a $547,000 hole in her town's budget. “It's the rough equivalent of eliminating the entire Hall-Dale High School and Middle School Math Department and the entire High School English Department,” said Warren. “The city council of Hallowell passed a resolution calling on the Governor and the Legislature to reject these proposed cuts. I’m proud to put a pin in the map declaring Hallowell to be a fair tax town and I’m glad that towns and cities across the state are joining us in this effort.”
"We need to solve this budget shortfall by making our tax code more fair. The other option is to raise property taxes on the poor and middle class, cut health care and education funding in order to give wealthy individuals and corporations another break," said MPA MidCoast Community Organizer Caroline Ginsberg. "People often say that the budget is about hard choices, but this choice seems pretty easy to me and I think it's going to be an easy decision for people in towns all over this state."
“The purpose of the fair tax towns project is not just for our members and towns across the state to speak out and say they oppose these cuts and property tax increases, but to make the point that there’s a better way – we can solve a great deal of our problems just by making the tax code a little more fair,” said MPA volunteer Cheryl Lee. “Together, we’re going to make sure the Legislators in this building hear from people all over the state. We’re going to make sure they do the right thing.”
To find out more information about the campaign, and how you can help get your town to pass a resolution against the LePage budget, visit www.mainepeoplesalliance.org/resolution.