Maine Tax Reform on Hold Until Next Year?

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Editor
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Maine Tax Reform on Hold Until Next Year?

It's pretty clear how the Press Herald defines "tax reform". The heading of their special report on the subject is:[b] Tax Reform: Shifting the Burden in Maine [/b]Baldacci's and the D's approach to helping us out is like bailing out a sinking boat by scooping up buckets of water and throwing them somewhere else in the boat. You can move the water around, but the boat is still gonna sink.

Editor
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Maine Tax Reform on Hold Until Next Year?

Lewiston Sun Journal
6/6/03A competing proposal could derail part of governor’s tax reform plan
By Christopher Williams
Staff Writer
A ballot initiative spearheaded by the Maine Municipal Association could thwart efforts aimed at comprehensive tax reform this year, a ranking Republican legislator says.Republican members of the Legislature’s Taxation Committee said Thursday they favored pitching to voters in November a single proposal aimed at increasing state aid to schools.That proposal would require communities to earmark a portion of local tax revenues for essential educational programs and services. The state would promise to pay the remainder of those basic costs.The school-funding plan is just one component of Gov. John Baldacci’s multi-faceted approach to what he has trumpeted as a blueprint for fiscal restraint and tax reform.But Sen. Richard Nass, R-Acton, a member of the Taxation Committee, said the rest of the governor’s plan might have to wait until next year.Asked if the MMA referendum would likely derail efforts to overhaul Maine’s tax structure, Nass said, “I’m reluctantly going to say, ‘Yes’ to that.”The MMA question will ask voters whether or not the state should pay 55 percent of K-12 public education costs, its full share under law. It currently pays about 43 percent. The state also would be required to pay all special education costs.Any legislative effort that would compete with a ballot measure must be put to voters at statewide referendum.Nass said he hopes to tackle tax reform issues next January when the Legislature resumes, but added that it is a short session and might not give his committee enough time.Committee co-Chairman Rep. David Lemoine, D-Old Orchard Beach, said Thursday that he believed three other portions of Baldacci’s plan might be included in a competing measure in November. Those are:• Regionalization of municipalities and school districts in exchange for state aid.• A one-cent local option tax on the meals and lodging tax in larger communities, subject to local voter approval, to pay for non-educational projects, with a five-year sunset provision.• The phasing out of the local personal property tax on business equipment and machinery as well as the state’s Business Equipment Tax Reimbursement program.Three other components of Baldacci’s plan — expansion of the Circuit Breaker program, elimination of the Homestead Exemption and reduction of the state income tax — likely would not be part of the committee’s bill because they would not compete with the MMA question, Lemoine said.After breaking into party caucus groups, Republican committee members were “particularly interested” in posing to voters only the question of funding essential programs and services, Nass said.“In our estimation, it would be a very good competing measure,” he said.Geoff Herman, spokesman for MMA, said that proposal would compete with his. But he could not endorse the measure before seeing it in more detail.If Maine’s towns and cities were to dedicate revenues from 10 mills on their tax rates to pay for basic education costs, it would cost the state about $136 million. But that would mean the state would only be paying 51 percent of public education, Herman said. If the communities were to set aside revenues from only 9 mills on their tax rates, the state would have to pay roughly $210 million. That would bring the state’s portion of education spending up to 55 percent, Herman said. [url=http://www.sunjournal.com/story.asp?slg=060603taxis]http://www.sunjourna...

James
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Re: Maine Tax Reform on Hold Until Next Year?

This is GOOD news. Anything Augusta calls reform will result in two things, more money being extracted from the taxpayers and more spending.Just wait for a tax cap to make it to the ballot and then we will have forced reform of the kind that does not raise taxes.

Anonymous
Re: Maine Tax Reform on Hold Until Next Year?

What makes you think that the voters who elect liberals and pass bond issues at every opportunity will approve a tax cap?

Melvin Udall
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Re: Maine Tax Reform on Hold Until Next Year?

James, you are spot on, as usual. Your points are always well founded, as opposed to my playful cynicism.The same folks that believe in a free lunch can often be convinced that they are paying too much for it. How do you think Prop 13 passed in CA years ago, when everyone was big on giving everything to the "braceros"?The secret is finding the hot button of otherwise totally unpredictable yet predictable voters.

James
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Re: Maine Tax Reform on Hold Until Next Year?

quote:Originally posted by George:
[b]What makes you think that the voters who elect liberals and pass bond issues at every opportunity will approve a tax cap?[/b]

Every poll that every paper has run for the last 4 years. :D

Anonymous
Re: Maine Tax Reform on Hold Until Next Year?

quote:Originally posted by James:
[b]Every poll that every paper has run for the last 4 years.[/b]

I think you are making this up. I have never seen a poll on the Palesky tax cap.

Doug Thomas
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Re: Maine Tax Reform on Hold Until Next Year?

If the MMA proposal is on the ballot by itself it's going to pass. The only chance of defeating it is a competing measure.The Governor sees an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. He can kill the MMA measure, and institute his own power grab. To think the Governor's so called "Tax Reform" is dead is wishful thinking.You'd better be reading the proposal, and getting ready, it's awful.
Again our side of the isle has no alternative, we lose by default.[ 06-07-2003: Message edited by: Doug Thomas ]

James
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Re: Maine Tax Reform on Hold Until Next Year?

George, I did not specifically say the Paleski cap, just property tax caps in general. I cannot remember a single instance where the question was asked that it failed. In fact, I beleive the numbers have recently been in the upper 60s.

Anonymous
Re: Maine Tax Reform on Hold Until Next Year?

quote:Originally posted by James:
[b]George, I did not specifically say the Paleski cap, just property tax caps in general. I cannot remember a single instance where the question was asked that it failed. In fact, I beleive the numbers have recently been in the upper 60s.[/b]

I have not seen a poll on tax caps. The only questions that I have seen have been about property taxes generally or about the MMA plan. Tax caps were all the rage in the 1980's. They passed in a number of communities around Maine and after a couple of years were repealed in every one except Bath.

Melvin Udall
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Re: Maine Tax Reform on Hold Until Next Year?

Bath has a spending cap, not a tax cap. And there is a difference.Can you imagine how much higher their spending would be without it?

Anonymous
Re: Maine Tax Reform on Hold Until Next Year?

Mel: Good point. My primary concern with Prop 13 like proposals are the distortions they have on how taxes are assessed.

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