Public Hearing Raises Questions Over LePage Budget
Future investments in Maine families, education, job training, as well as local support for firefighters and public safety are put at risk by the Governor’s $6.5 billion budget.
The strong concerns were expressed by opponents of the budget on Tuesday during the first public hearing on Governor Paul LePage’s changes to the income and estate tax rates.
“We haven’t been getting the the full story about Governor LePage’s budget,” said Rep. Peggy Rotundo, the House Chair of the Appropriations Committee. “I’m deeply concerned that the ratcheting down of state revenues in the out years will mean fewer dollars in the future for workforce development, education, and many of the very things businesses and workers say we need to succeed. We want a tax reform plan that is paid for now and in the future so we don’t jeopardize our support for Maine families, our schools, or workforce, or for our local firefighters and police.”
During the hearing, members of the public warned the reduction in the $400 million in revenue would result in a significant cuts to the state budget, prompting lawmakers to request a six year budget impact analysis from Maine Revenue Services and the Department of Administrative and Financial Affairs.
Members of the public also pointed to other states such as Kansas, where similar tax policies that benefit the wealthy have undercut the economy and critical funding for services.
“I support tax reform but this budget sidelines Maine families at the expense of the wealthy and big corporations,” said Senator Linda Valentino of Saco. “We heard a lot of concerns from people today about the elimination of the mortgage interest deduction, the Homestead exemption, and the property tax deduction. If these deductions are eliminated, it will jeopardize Maine’s economic recovery.”
Lawmakers also requested data and information on the net impact of the budget for Maine families, including the property and sales tax changes.
A recent study from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy shows such policies hurt middle and low income earners.
Public hearings on the tax portion of the Governor’s budget will continue throughout the week.