Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Gov. Paul LePage has released a video defending the tax cuts that were enacted in 2011 as part of the state's two-year budget.
LePage says in the clip that Democrats have been lying about the tax cuts, which were supported by a two-thirds majority of the Legislature when the budget was passed in 2011. The governor used the video to reiterate his stance that the cuts and tax breaks for businesses benefitted Mainers and helped grow the economy.
The video also marks another method of communication by the state's chief executive, who grants very few press interviews, has declined repeated interview requests with the Press Herald and other media outlets, and hasn't held a press conference since July 25.
In the five-minute video, the governor is interviewed by his communications director Adrienne Bennett, who during the interview congratulates the governor for leading the way on tax reform.
Bennett is a former television reporter. She is not identified as LePage's spokeswoman in the video.
The video appears to be preemptive move against the Democratic-led Legislature. Democratic leaders have not announced initiatives to repeal the tax cuts, but have said they will be evaluated as lawmakers attempt to negotiate the state's next two-year budget.
State revenue forecasts are projecting an $880 million revenue shortfall for the next two-year budget. The first part of the bill for the tax cuts comes due this year and is expected to cost $342 million in the budget that begins July 1.
Democrats have said that the tax cuts mostly benefit Maine's top earners. LePage said that cuts benefit all income levels and eliminates income taxes for 70,000 low-income Mainers this year.
The changes cut the top income tax bracket rate from 8.5 percent to 7.95 percent, while those paying 4.5 percent and 7 percent were moved to 6.5 percent.
Those previously paying a 2 percent income-tax rate went to 0 percent. That, along with a change in the personal exemption amount, eliminated income tax liability for about 70,000 low-income Mainers.
Shortly after the video was posted, LePage's re-election committee began promoting it during a fundraising appeal.
The governor is up for reelection in 2014, but he has not made a formal announcement about whether he will seek a second term.Tweet
Steve Mistler covers politics and government for the Portland Press Herald. He spends a lot of time in the hallways of the State House.