On November 8th, Maine voters approved two referendum questions the Maine Center for Economic Policy (MECEP) strongly supported and for which we provided critical research and analytical support.
MECEP helped to conceive Question 2, the initiative to rollback recent tax breaks for the wealthy to increase education funding. This measure places a three-percent surcharge on taxable annual household income above $200,000 and will generate more than $150 million each year dedicated to achieving the voter mandate for the state to fund at least 55 percent of the cost of k-12 education. In September, MECEP released Moving Maine Students to the Head of the Class, our research and analysis finding that, in addition to increasing state funding for schools, Question 2 will promote tax fairness, help encourage greater opportunity for low-income students, level the playing field between property-poor and property-rich towns, and strengthen Maine’s economy.
Question 4 will raise Maine’s minimum wage from $7.50 an hour to $9 in 2017 and incrementally to $12 by 2020. In August MECEP released Restoring the Value of Work, our research and analysis finding that as a result of Question 4, by 2020 181,000 Mainers ̶ one in three of all Maine workers ̶ will earn an additional $3,485 a year on average. Our study also determined that 9 of 10 of those benefiting are age 20 or older, half between age 20 and 39 and that a quarter of those getting a raise support at least one child. We concluded that, in addition to increasing worker earnings, Question 4 will boost spending in the local economy, improve business productivity, enhance workers’ children’s prospects for success, and reduce the need for public assistance.
While there is still much work to do to promote opportunity and build a Maine economy that works for everyone, we are proud to have been part of these successful initiative efforts.