There are no guarantees in life. You think you know what’s what, then something comes along that makes you question all your assumptions.

No matter how many times I learn it, I have to learn it again.

The latest realization is this: Just because Gov. LePage says it doesn’t mean that it’s wrong.

What brought me to this was the part of his budget package that would let municipalities collect property tax on some of the largest nonprofits, which are currently tax-exempt. This is meant to come as compensation for the loss of municipal revenue-sharing, the program that returns a portion of sales tax revenue to Maine cities and towns.

On its face, this looks like a tax shift from broad-based state taxes onto local property tax payers, and it is. But by adding property to the tax rolls, this could be a way to cut the state budget and provide a more predictable revenue stream for municipal government. It would also go a long way toward being fair to taxpayers in service center communities, who have been paying more than their fair share for a long time.

The governor’s $6.3 billion budget proposal centers on an overdue modernization of the tax code, which was written when the economy was based on selling goods instead of services.

You can see the transformation when you look at Portland’s skyline. The city’s newest and biggest landmark buildings are the sprawling complexes of Maine Medical Center at the top of the Western Prom and Mercy Hospital along the Fore River.

It’s not just Portland. The hospitals compete with the $300 million MaineGeneral facility in Augusta, or the $287 million tower under construction at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor.

They are built by corporations that pay six-figure salaries to their top managers – the exception being MaineHealth’s CEO, Bill Caron, who takes home more than $1 million. They certainly don’t look like they are hurting for cash, but you can’t say the same for the service center communities in which they are located.

If you look at property tax rates by town, the places with the most tax-exempt property are paying the highest rates. The cities’ homeowners and for-profit businesses have to pay more because so much of the real estate is owned by nonprofit entities, which nevertheless employ people who drive on roads, call fire trucks and otherwise use city services.

Not surprisingly, the Maine Hospital Association does not think that this change to tax policy is such a hot idea. Vice President Jeff Austin called it a “sick tax,” a cost which would just be passed on to the hospitals’ customers. That sounds pretty bad, unless you consider that’s how they pay for everything. Hospital companies issue bonds that are paid off over time by health insurance or payments from government programs. Hospitals are getting more and more lavish each year, and it’s sick people who are paying for it.

If service center communities could depend on tax revenue from big nonprofits, they would be better off than they are now, when they wait every year for Augusta to decide how much it’s going to cut revenue-sharing.

It’s true that not every community has a nonprofit big enough to tax under the governor’s plan, but that does not mean that municipal revenue-sharing is the best way to address their property tax issues.

Some homeowners along the coast or near ski mountains see their taxes climb as out-of-state second-home buyers bid up prices, increasing everyone’s valuation. Revenue-sharing from the state can lower the local tax rate, but it lowers it for everyone. Property tax relief that goes directly to the resident homeowner, helping him pay a little less, means that the second-home owners would pay a little more. The governor’s package calls for doubling the homestead exemption for seniors and increasing the tax fairness credit to provide that relief only to residents who live in their houses.

Whether there are enough of these kinds of safety valves in the budget to balance out the cuts to revenue-sharing is part of what the Legislature will spend the next few months sorting out.

The package is complicated, and once elements start getting pulled out, it could all collapse.

But from this point in the process, I’m with the governor. Spreading the property tax burden more evenly is a good idea.