The bill being announced today to be introduced by Representative Gary Knight has a number of flaws and weaknesses, but it represents a welcome recognition from Republican members of the Legislature, including prominent members of the Tea Party caucus, that there are no more cuts to be made in the state budget and that increasing revenue must be part of any workable solution.
“Up to this point, Republicans had tried to disguise some of the tax increases in Governor LePage’s budget proposal by forcing towns to do the dirty work of increasing property taxes in order to deal with the elimination of revenue sharing,” said Maine People’s Alliance executive director Jesse Graham. “This new proposal does away with that fiction by recognizing what Maine people and town officials have been telling them: it’s just not fair to make the poor and middle class pick up the tab for tax breaks for the wealthy through hikes in property taxes.”
Unfortunately, while the new proposal does mitigate LePage’s proposed property tax increases, it does so primarily by increasing the state sales tax, which is also inherently regressive. The plan also contains an additional income tax cut that would primarily benefit the wealthy and eliminates the estate tax, which only affects a small number of millionaires each year.
“We don’t support the bill. It doesn’t make sense to tax necessities like food in order to lower taxes for the wealthy and corporations,” said Graham. “Even with the tax credits they have proposed to address this regressivity, many low- and middle-income households will find them insufficient, and struggling families shouldn’t be required to front the state money every time they buy groceries in order to earn a tax credit at the end of the year.”
“The plan itself does nothing to address a tax system that is rigged against the poor and middle class, but the fact that Republicans are supporting raising revenue and discussing the fairness of the tax system is promising for the Fair Share Now! campaign’s fair share solution, which would see wealthy individuals finally pay a rate closer to that of the average Mainer and close tax loopholes in order to make sure corporations and people from out-of-state pay their fair share,” said Graham.
The Fair Share Now! plan provides for the full restoration of revenue sharing and the circuitbreaker program, prevents cuts to health care and education and protects Mainers from Governor LePage’s proposed property tax increases.