Reordering Legislative Priorities, Step One: Middle Class Property Tax Relief

As I wrote in yesterday’s Lewiston Sun-Journal, lawmakers in Augusta have made their priorities clear: tax relief for the wealthiest Mainers is more important than tax relief for low- and moderate-income Mainers.

Here’s how our legislators can reset their priorities and begin helping hard-working low-income and middle-class folks who deserve better:

Restore funding to the Property Tax and Rent Refund Program (aka “Circuit Breaker”). This is an easy way to put more money into middle class pockets by helping families that earn less than $86,600 a year. These families have bills to pay and can be counted on to  spend the money from a tax cut immediately on necessities, providing sales for small businesses and boosting the local economy. They’ve got kids to feed, parents to take care of, school and childcare to pay for, and skyrocketing health insurance costs to cover.  Unlike the wealthy, who have benefited from recent tax breaks, many of these families are just barely getting by on their income.

Additionally, lawmakers should make the Circuit Breaker application process easier and increase awareness of the program. At least half of eligible families don’t take advantage of this tax break. That means something is wrong with the way this tax relief program is administered.

Enacting these changes would help jumpstart our economy and lift up low-income and middle-class Maine families for many years to come.