There are lots of reasons why Gov. LePage won re-election, from Democratic candidate Mike Michaud being attacked from both sides in a three-way race, to the turnout of conservative voters in central and northern Maine to oppose the referendum on banning bear baiting, to the simple fact that LePage ran a very effective campaign and successfully controlled the broader narrative of the election.

What’s more important now, however, is what this election will lead to in terms of policy changes and what effect they’ll have on Maine people.

In media interviews after his re-election, LePage has said that there will be no weakening of his position on accepting federal funding to expand health care coverage. He did say that he’d like to help the tens of thousands of Mainers suffering from a lack of care (finally acknowledging that they exist) but added that he doesn’t know how to pay for it (ignoring, once again, the fact that he continues to reject hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funds).

In an interview with the Bangor Daily News, LePage expressed no such reservations about how to pay for what will apparently be his top budget priority for his new term: more tax breaks for the wealthy.

“LePage said he wants to lower the income and estate taxes for those in Maine’s upper-income brackets,” the newspaper reported. “He plans to make those proposals in the biennial budget he presents to the Legislature in January 2015.”

While LePage has often talked about cutting or eliminating income and estate taxes, he didn’t express this kind of specificity about tax cuts for the rich during his campaign.

Perhaps he didn’t make it a campaign issue because tax cuts for the wealthy are right up there with Ebola, ISIS and the U.S. House of Representatives in terms of public disdain. A Gallup poll this year found that just 13 percent of Americans thought “upper-income people” paid too much in taxes.

In fact, the entire issue of taxes in general, long a mainstay of conservative messaging, seems to be slipping out of Republicans’ hands. Only 27 percent of the TV ads on taxes in U.S. Senate races this year were run by Republicans, with the rest run by Democrats touting tax fairness, according to an analysis by The Wall Street Journal.

Obviously, having an advantage on this one issue wasn’t enough to stop the Republican wave, but it does point to a thin silver lining in last week’s results: Perhaps Democrats have realized they don’t have to be on the defensive and can instead show leadership in favor of fair taxes.

The policy case behind Le-Page’s new push for tax cuts for the rich is as shaky as the political one. LePage claims that cutting taxes for the wealthy will benefit the economy, attracting and retaining more rich folks in Maine, but his reasoning is deeply flawed.

“Twenty-five years ago Maine had about 2,000 millionaires. Maine has 400 now. New Hampshire at the time had about 500. Right now, they have 4,000. That’s the difference,” LePage told a conservative audience last year, highlighting the differing tax rates for the two states. “That’s when you talk about prosperity and you talk about building an economy, those are the things that you need to concern yourself with. So, I am looking at taxation as a big issue.”

LePage’s numbers, as is often the case, are way off. Internal Revenue Service data shows that the superwealthy are actually moving to Maine at a faster rate than they are moving to New Hampshire. Mainers filing million-dollar-plus tax returns increased by 84 percent between 1997 and 2011. New Hampshire, despite its proximity to Boston, saw only a 64 percent increase during the same period.

Overall migration trends between the two states reveal a similar dynamic. From 1993 to 2010, 1,361 people who once filed returns in New Hampshire moved to Maine, bringing with them $164,022,000 in adjusted gross income. People moving to Maine were also slightly wealthier on average than those who crossed the border in the other direction.

It seems that other things, perhaps our clean environment and sense of community, are what attract people to Maine.

Luckily, Democrats still have a majority in the Maine House. While they may not be able to pass initiatives like health care expansion, they will be able to place a check on some of LePage’s counterproductive policies. On the issue of tax fairness, the politics will be in their favor, which I’m sure will be a refreshing change after the results of the election.

Mike Tipping is a political junkie who works for the Maine People’s Alliance. He can be contacted at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @miketipping

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