The citizens’ initiative to overturn the tax reform package that the Legislature passed in 2009 was in the spotlight Saturday as its framer addressed delegates at the Republican Convention at the Portland Expo.

Sen. David Trahan, R-Waldoboro, called the proposed repeal, which will go before the voters on June 8, “the real Maine Miracle” and emphasized the broadening of the sales tax in his appeal to the party delegates in the room to reject the Democrat-led reform package.

He launched a video advertisement that displayed dozens of new services and goods that will be taxed if the initiative fails, from pet grooming to auto repair.

He also downplayed the simplification of the state’s income tax code that is also a key component of the reform law he is seeking to block.

“Do you really think the Democrats want to cut your taxes?” Trahan asked the crowd.

The reform package that Democrats and an unenrolled lawmaker crafted with the support of Sen. Peter Mills, R-Cornville, lowers the highest income tax bracket by increasing the taxes charged by hotels and restaurants and broadening the sales tax to include new services.

It also does away with itemized deductions and creates a credit for low-income tax filers in an attempt to counter the adverse effect of the increased sales tax. Supporters of the reforms say the shift to taxing more services is long overdue, because that is where so much of the state economy is now based.

In his speech, Trahan linked the successful signature-gathering campaign to recent Republican electoral victories around the country: Scott Brown for U.S. Senate from Massachusetts; Chris Christie as governor of New Jersey; Robert McDonnell as governor of Virginia.

“Do you see a pattern here?” he said. “I want to point out that we didn’t wait for these historic elections to turn back the tide of the liberal tax policies.”

He told how he led the drive to collect 55,000 signatures, which he said was unfunded and had no “support from the press.”

“Editorial writers and Democrats chastised our efforts,” he said, to collect the necessary signatures to bring the citizens’ initiative to voters.

Trahan accused the House Assistant Majority Leader, Rep. Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham, “and his minions” of harassing the volunteers gathering signatures.

He noted that when signature-gatherers such as himself were exhausted last fall, they called on House Minority Leader Josh Tardy, R-Newport, who, “like a knight on a white horse” brought “reinforcements to battle.”

As representatives of a political action committee (PAC) funding the Yes on One campaign passed out brochures to the audience, Trahan made reference to the Wall Street Journal editorial staff’s dubbing of the tax reform package he seeks to overturn as “the Maine Miracle.”

“The fact that we succeeded in this effort is the real Maine Miracle, and today we celebrate that great victory, not just for our party, but for Maine’s working families,” Trahan said.

“Make no mistake, my Republican friends, we are the party of lower taxes, less government and real freedom — the freedom to spend your money however you want.”


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