House Democratic leaders reiterated their commitment to moving Maine toward a fair tax policy that puts more money in the pockets of middle-class families.  

 House Majority Leader Seth Berry of Bowdoinham said he is still evaluating the tax reform proposal unveiled by the “Gang of 11″.

 “House Democrats rejected the governor’s budget because it is a property tax hike that disproportionately hits the middle class,” Berry said. “We will reject any proposal that does not address issues of fundamental fairness.”

 Berry has been working on a tax proposal based on the Buffett Rule that would equalize tax rates and reduce taxes for middle-class and working families.

 The highest-income households in Maine currently pay roughly 10 cents per dollar on state and local taxes: income, sales, use and property. The average household pays slightly more than 11 cents while the lowest-income households pay 17 cents.

 Berry’s proposal would equalize the tax rates by having those making at least $350,000 pay on average just a penny more per dollar. The change is estimated to raise approximately $200 million in the first biennium – roughly half of the budget gap created by tax breaks largely for the wealthy passed in the previous Legislature – and would go towards tax cuts for middle-class and working families starting in 2016.

 “We need tax changes that put more money in the pockets of working families. Tax cuts for the wealthy and tax hikes on food and home heating oil raise real red flags,” said Assistant House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe of Skowhegan.

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