Friday, March 7, 2014
Maine People Before Politics, the political organization supporting Gov. Paul LePage, has begun campaigning against the budget deal struck by state lawmakers last week.
The organization will run a television ad supportive of the governor's tax-cutting and government-reduction initiatives. It's already initiated a public relations campaign via Twitter that, among other things, recycles claims that New Hampshire has gained more in salaries than Maine between 1992 and 2010 while noting that the Granite State doesn't have a sales tax.
Maine's sales tax is 5 percent. The budget deal reached last week proposes temporarily increasing it to 5.5 percent and the meals and lodging tax from 7 percent to 8 percent. The Legislature and Gov. Angus King also approved a temporary sales tax hike during King's second term.
The MPBP ad buy is reportedly small -- approximately $30,000 -- so it may do little to influence public opinion. However, it reinforces the governors' efforts at the State House to get Republicans to reject the budget deal.
It's unclear if Republicans will stay with the budget compromise if (when?) it's vetoed by LePage. The unanimous committee vote bodes well for a veto override. Additionally, Republican and Democratic leaders played crucial roles in forging the consensus plan that was reached last week.
The ad purchase is MPBP's second attempt to put pressure on lawmakers with a television ad. The group was originally part of the governor's transition team. It is now a nonprofit organization that it's allowed to engage in some political advocacy but not obligated to disclose its donors.
Steve Mistler covers politics and government for the Portland Press Herald. He spends a lot of time in the hallways of the State House.