At a time when Maine families are falling out of the middle-class, when experienced workers need new skills to secure good paying jobs in a modern economy, and when state infrastructure is in need of improvement and expansion, the state budget presents an opportunity to solve shared problems and return our quality of life to the way life should be.
Governor LePage’s final biennial budget, released last week, squanders this opportunity and instead creates new tax breaks for the wealthy and large corporations that are paid for by stripping funding from our schools, shifting more costs onto Maine communities, and increasing taxes on low- and middle-income Mainers. Lawmakers should reject the governor’s budget and instead build a plan that strengthens the economic foundations of a prosperous future for all Mainers, not just those at the top.
When fully phased in, the governor’s tax plan increases taxes for households with income below $92,000 and gives a $22,665 tax cut to households with income over $384,000. The tax proposal further reduces state resources by eliminating the estate tax and making cuts to the corporate income tax that will benefit the wealthy and powerful.
Not only does the governor’s lopsided tax proposal increase taxes for the vast majority of Mainers, it drastically reduces the amount of resources available to invest in the foundations of a thriving economy. The governor’s proposal cuts services communities rely on and pushes costs for education and other services onto cities and towns just two months after Mainers approved more state funding for education paid for by a tax on wealthy households.
The governor’s budget reduces funding for K-12 education, reduces access to health care for parents, wipes out funding for family planning services, eliminates 500 state positions that provide important services to communities like serving Mainers with disabilities, scraps Head Start funding, and cuts programs that help Mainers find work.
The state can continue providing the important services the governor proposes to cut with available revenue and increase investment in improving our economy if we make no changes to the existing tax code. However, the governor’s proposed tax breaks for the rich and powerful take money away from investing in our future and shift costs onto low- and moderate-income Mainers.
Nowhere in the governor’s budget is a plan to move Maine’s economy and Maine families forward. Lawmakers must reject the governor’s proposal and put forward a plan to address shared priorities and begin to solve problems our state faces.