Friday, March 7, 2014
Last week, the Maine Legislature’s powerful budget writing committee recommended to further grow state government. To pay for the increased spending, the Appropriations Committee proposed raising taxes on struggling Maine families and businesses. This week, it is expected that all 186 legislators will vote up or down on the increased spending and higher taxes. If passed, Governor Paul LePage stated that he will veto the plan.
There will likely be plenty of discussion about the increased spending and additional tax “compromise” crafted by the Appropriations Committee. Unfortunately, the compromise is heading in the wrong direction. The agreement should be about how much to reduce the size of government and to lower taxes, not the other way around.
Maine is already one of the highest taxed states in the country – personal income tax, gasoline tax, business tax, sales tax, local property tax, and so on. Maine families pay the 9th highest tax burden in the nation. In other words, we pay the 9th highest percent of our below national average earnings for state and local taxes.
Non-partisan research confirms that the lowest taxed states attract more business investment and jobs than the highest taxed states. It’s common sense that business owners locate to states where the cost (and regulatory complexity) of operating their companies is lower. Taxes are part of those costs.
Sadly, Maine has been one of the highest taxes states for many years. That’s why too many of our young workers and their families leave Maine for better jobs elsewhere. That’s why too many of our retirees change their state residencies to avoid the high taxes (and the high energy and health care costs).
If the Maine Legislature votes to further grow state government, it will send exactly the wrong message to the business community. It will say…
“If you start or expand your company in Maine, we will tax you and your employees more. We refuse to stop overspending on our unsustainable welfare programs, and choose not to control the growth of our municipal and school budgets. We realize that our taxes are already among the highest in the nation. However, we need more of your money because we cannot control our appetite to spend. So, come to Maine and we will tax you more.”
Continuing down the path of ever higher taxes to pay for ever bigger government will hurt struggling Maine families in two ways: First, higher taxes will pull more hard-earned money from the pockets of our families struggling through the worst recession in 70 years. Second, higher taxes will further discourage business investment and jobs for our fellow Mainers. Let’s encourage our state legislators to do what’s right to help Maine families, not hurt them.Tweet
Bruce Poliquin is the former Maine State Treasurer and a 2012 Republican primary candidate for the United States Senate. He has 35 years of experience owning and managing businesses. Bruce is a proud third-generation Franco-American Mainer and Harvard University graduate. Visit BrucePoliquin.net for his most recent commentary and analysis on media outlets throughout the State about the important issues facing Maine families and their jobs.