Friday, March 7, 2014
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State Rep. Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham
That group, co-chaired by Neena Tanden, a former member of the Obama and Clinton administrations, boasts partners in nearly 20 states, including Maine.
Berry's bill is at least a partial response to Gov. Paul LePage's two-year budget proposal, which retains the 2011 tax cut package with an array of cuts in services and a two-year suspension of municipal aid.
The municipal aid suspension, along with other proposals, has encountered fierce resistance from towns and cities.
Berry said in a statement that the present tax code puts too much of a burden on middle- and lower-income taxpayers, compared to higher-income taxpayers.
But that appraisal was challenged by Republicans who say Democratic leaders are going to raise taxes at a time when Mainers can't afford it.
The House Republican Office cited recent calculations by Maine Revenue Services that said rolling back a .55 percent income tax cut that the Legislature approved for high-income earners in 2011 would generate only $10 million for the next two-year state budget.
Additionally, Republicans argued that Democrats had historically adjusted the tax code so that middle-class earners were shoved into the top tax bracket.
"I'm also a supporter of tax fairness, but Democrats over the years have taxed all Mainers like they're rich," said Rep. Kenneth Fredette, R-Newport.
"Instead of chasing away the last of the rich people in Maine with higher taxes, we should reduce the tax burden on the middle class and put them in the middle tax bracket where they belong, not the highest."
Berry's bill carries the full weight of the Democratic leadership, including House Speaker Mark Eves of North Berwick and Senate President Justin Alfond of Portland.
"Here we have the opportunity to pay our bills for past tax cuts, implement fairer taxes and cut taxes for most Maine families -- in many cases by half," said Assistant House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe of Skowhegan, one of the bill's co-sponsors.
* - This story has been corrected to properly classify the number of resident returns for those earning $250,000 or more in 2011.
Steve Mistler can be contacted at 620-7016 or at: