Last night, Gov. LePage vetoed a measure, LD 13, that exempts a statewide network of libraries, also known as the Maine InfoNet Collaborative, from sales tax.

The Maine InfoNet Collaborative allows public, school, community college, and university libraries to share resources and serve patrons through a statewide digital catalog, free digital downloads of audiobooks and e-books, and many other digital services and software.

“The Governor’s veto makes no sense. He is sending the message that unless the Legislature acquiesces to his initiatives, government will come to a halt. This is government by intimidation and by discord,” said Democratic State Senator Gratwick of Bangor, the sponsor of the measure. “Unfortunately, the Governor has rejected common sense and bipartisanship that benefits all of Maine.”

In 2014, the Collaborative was informed that they will be required to pay sales tax on purchases such as catalog software and digital materials.While all members of the Maine InfoNet Collaborative are tax-exempt as non-profit libraries, the consortium itself is not. Taxing collective purchases would discourage libraries from working together to improve or expand services through the consortium.

During the public hearing on the bill, Barbara McDade, Director of Bangor Public Library and Board Member of the Maine InfoNet Collaborative said, “It makes no sense to have the consortium pay sales tax on goods and services that the individual members would not be subject to.  It would be using tax dollars to pay sales tax, which doesn’t make much sense.”

Maine library patrons borrow an average of 30,000 digital books every month through this statewide service. The Maine InfoNet Download Library, one service managed by the Collaborative, serves patrons from 217 Maine Libraries with more than 12,000 audiobooks and ebooks online.

The Senate will likely take up the veto override tomorrow or early next week. Twenty-four votes or a two-thirds vote is needed to override the Governor’s veto.

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