May 28, 2013

State House Notebook: Republicans change votes to sustain LePage vetoes

By Michael Shepherd mshepherd@mainetoday.com
State House Bureau

(Continued from page 1)

According to the release, Schultheis has lived in Maine for 22 years after a career in the mutual fund industry and is running an entirely self-financed race on an "interactive campaign model" aimed at getting voters out of "common ideological foxholes."

During the campaign, the release said, Schultheis' "sleek 1968 black cherry Camaro" will take him statewide "to harness the momentum of recent grassroots movements."

TAX TALK

One of the most important debates of the session could be settled this week: whether legislators will recommend that Maine completely change its tax system. A Democrat-led proposal and one from the bipartisan "Gang of 11" are still before the Taxation Committee. Both would be hard-pressed to pass.

Democrats should be mostly behind a plan from House Majority Leader Berry that seeks to equalize tax rates between low-, middle- and high-income taxpayers. Republicans assuredly won't go for it. One has to presume LePage would much less sign it. The Gang of 11 plan is sweeping. It would create a lower, flat income tax, broaden the sales tax base to include nearly every good and service and provide property tax relief, while aiming to raise more tax revenue from out-of-staters. The group says Mainers would pay less.

But it's been derided by many across the political spectrum. In a TV appearance Friday on WCSH, Eves and Fredette said they wouldn't support it as it stands. Hard-line Republicans say it's a tax hike. Hard-line Democrats say it's terribly regressive.

A better answer is expected later this week, when the plan's sponsor, Rep. Gary Knight, R-Livermore Falls, said Maine Revenue Services will provide its first estimates of the plan's sales-, property- and income-tax impact on state taxpayers.

On Friday, Knight expected the gang's assumptions of positive impact on Mainers to be borne out. If not, "the whole thing falls flat," he said. "I'm guardedly optimistic."

Steve Mistler of the State House Bureau contributed to this report.

Michael Shepherd can be reached at 370-7652 or at:

mshepherd@mainetoday.com

Twitter: @mikeshepherdme

This article was updated at 8:33 a.m. on Tuesday, May 28, 2013. The sponsor of LD 387 is Richard Farnsworth D-Portland, not Drew Gattine, D-Westbrook.

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