AUGUSTA — Today, Maine is at a crossroads. There’s still a lot of work to do to restart our economy – to return Maine as a place of opportunity for us, our kids and our grandkids. While Gov. LePage has started an important conversation about Maine’s future, his priorities are out of step with the needs of Maine people.

Democrats recently presented a counterproposal to Gov. LePage’s budget. We offered a better deal for Maine families and a better deal for Maine communities.

The Better Deal for Maine budget grows our economy by allowing more Mainers to keep more of their hard-earned money. It lowers property taxes for all Maine homeowners. And it invests in our future, like our students, workers and seniors. The Better Deal for Maine budget does all of this by asking nonresidents, the wealthy and corporations to pay their fair share.

Our plan agrees with Gov. LePage’s premise that our tax code is holding our state back. And we are pleased that he has joined the much-needed conversation about tax reform.

But when you unpack Gov. LePage’s tax plan, it becomes clear that his priorities are based on failed trickle-down economics: Help the rich get richer, shift as much of the tax burden onto property taxes (while scolding our towns to do more with less) and dry up future spending on investments. This is not a sustainable path for growth or prosperity.

Instead, our Better Deal believes in middle-class economics: Cut taxes for working and middle-income Mainers, invest in our infrastructure so that our businesses prosper and keep our communities strong by supporting great public schools, public safety and health. This is how our economy will be competitive.

By every measure, the Better Deal beats the governor’s budget.

n The Better Deal cuts property taxes for all Maine homeowners.

While the governor’s budget eliminates the homestead exemption for people under age 65, the Better Deal doubles the homestead exemption to $20,000 for all Maine homeowners – regardless of age. That means, for a family in a town with an average property tax rate of $15 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, the Better Deal will give them a $300 property tax cut – compared to $0 as proposed by the governor.

Additionally, the Better Deal increases the property tax fairness credit by more than $57 million per year – that’s up to $1,500 per homeowner – and it extends the credit to those who earn as much as $83,000 per year.

Together, these property tax measures save Maine residents $120 million per year.

n The Better Deal cuts income taxes. While the governor’s plan gives 50 percent of his tax cut to only the top 10 percent of wage earners – individuals with taxable income more than $134,000 – the Better Deal directs 98 percent of income tax relief to the bottom 95 percent.

n The Better Deal does not raise the sales tax rate. Unlike Gov. LePage’s plan, which raises the sales tax to 6.5 percent, the Better Deal keeps it at 5.5 percent. Additionally, the Better Deal adopts the sales tax broadening plan proposed by the governor.

n The Better Deal prevents property tax spikes. By increasing revenue sharing to $80 million each year to pay for local services like police, fire, and public works, our communities won’t be forced to hike up property taxes to pay for essential services. However, the governor’s plan eliminates revenue sharing completely in 2017.

n The Better Deal does not tax nonprofits. The governor creates a new tax on nonprofits.

n The Better Deal invests in Maine’s future. It invests an additional $20 million more per year in K-12 local schools, getting the state 2 percentage points closer to the voter-mandated goal of the state picking up 55 percent of the cost of education.

n Finally, the Better Deal is fiscally responsible: It’s fully paid for now and into the future. The governor’s budget creates a budget hole to the tune of $300 million.

Budgets are not just about dollars and cents. They are a reflection of the priorities and values of Maine people.

If working Mainers have more of their money in their pockets, access to great public schools, good roads and strong communities, Maine’s economy will grow. Think of the incredible economic growth America and Maine enjoyed in the 1950s and ’60s, when the middle class was expanding and income inequality was the lowest in modern history. We can have that again if we focus on rebuilding Maine’s middle class.

That work starts today with the Better Deal for Maine. This is a plan that puts faith in the hundreds of thousands of working Mainers who want to help Maine get back on its feet and prosper. With this plan, we embrace an economy that works for everyone.

We look forward to working with our colleagues and Gov. LePage to do what’s best for Maine families and our economy.