The Legislature is in full swing. Just over half of the 1,500 bills submitted by lawmakers have been introduced and sent down to one of our policy committees for public hearings, analysis, amendments and preliminary votes. We expect to keep working through bills at least until late spring.Each of us has our own legislation, and we’re also responsible for learning about all the bills that come through our committees. But the one bill we all have in common is the governor’s budget proposal for the next two fiscal years. It’s the one thing that’s always on all of our minds, and it affects everything else we do at the State House.
This budget is more complicated than usual because it contains major changes to state tax policy. They include proposals to lower income tax rates, eliminate most income tax credits and deductions and expand the sales tax with the goal of exporting a portion to out-of-state visitors. The budget would also eliminate revenue sharing to local communities beginning in the second year of the budget and impose property taxes on certain non-profit organizations in the state.
I have real concerns about this budget. If it were to pass right now without any changes, it could have serious implications for Maine’s property tax burden. I am also concerned about how vulnerable Mainers will be affected by cuts such as those to programs that help the elderly pay for health care and medication and that serve children with mental illness and autism.
The Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee is in the midst of public hearings on various parts of the governor’s proposed budget. Many Mainers have testified about their priorities for our state. I encourage you to weigh in.
The full budget proposal is available here. You can also follow the budget process here.
Crafting a balanced budget that is fair and works for all Maine people is one of our most important jobs as legislators. You can be assured that I will analyze each portion this budget very carefully and with my constituents in mind.
As always, please contact me if I can be of any help or if you want to discuss or testify on any legislation. You can also come to my next public office hours on Saturday March 28 between 10 and noon at the Fairground Cafe in the Topsham Fair Mall.