MECEP Statement on Gov. LePage’s Pending Budget Proposal

Augusta, Maine (Thursday, January 5, 2017) The Maine Center for Economic Policy (MECEP) issued the following statement from Executive Director Garrett Martin concerning the scheduled release of Gov. Paul LePage’s final budget tomorrow.

“The state budget provides an opportunity to lay a foundation for a strong economy and thriving communities. To capitalize on this opportunity, the governor’s budget will need to raise enough revenue to make investments that build a stronger workforce, help young families succeed, support modern infrastructure, and address other goals that benefit all Mainers now and in the future.

“As a result of tax breaks since 2011 that have predominantly benefited wealthy Mainers and corporations, general fund spending is at its lowest level in 25 years as a share of the state’s economy. That means state revenue hasn’t kept pace with the costs of maintaining state services or making additional needed investments and costs have shifted to local communities as a result. Implementation of the recently voter-approved education funding initiative will help buck this trend by increasing funding for education, but more needs to be done to assure that Maine has the resources to invest in our people and communities.

“MECEP looks forward to analyzing the governor’s final budget proposal. In particular, we will focus on the extent to which the governor’s budget advances tax fairness for working Mainers, demonstrates fiscal responsibility by securing adequate resources to maintain long-term commitments to education and other priorities while accounting for the increased costs of maintaining those commitments over time and the inevitability of future economic downturns. It also must avoid future budget shortfalls or cost shifts to individuals, businesses, and communities in the form of higher property taxes, tuition costs, fees, and payments to private rather than public service providers.”

In advance of tomorrow’s scheduled budget release, MECEP posted a new issue brief on its website, Making the Most of Maine’s Next Budget, that highlights some key revenue and spending trends and guidelines for building a fiscally responsible budget. MECEP’s tax and budget analyst Sarah Austin also published an op-ed, LePage’s tax breaks for the wealthy will undermine Maine’s economy, in the Bangor Daily News.