Despite a strong split in support along party lines, a majority of Mainers favor taxing personal income over $200,000 to pay for education, according to a new Portland Press Herald poll.

Overall, 60 percent of respondents support a November ballot question that would tax Maine households earning more than $200,000 a year – $30 for every $1,000 over $200,000. The money, estimated to generate $157 million the first year, would be earmarked for “direct support” of student learning and administered by state education officials.

The poll found 32 percent oppose Question 2 and 8 percent are undecided.

There were notable differences in support based on political party and gender. Eighty percent of Democrats said they supported it and 15 percent did not. Among Republicans, 37 percent supported it and 52 percent did not.

Among women, 67 percent support it and 25 percent say they don’t. Among men, 52 percent support it and 40 percent say they don’t.

The measure would affect about 16,000 households. In Maine, the top 2 percent of income earners make $225,000 or more a year and pay 30 percent of all income taxes paid to the state, according to the Department of Administration and Financial Services.


The funding proposal comes more than a decade after voters agreed the state should pay for 55 percent of the cost of K-12 education – a goal the state has never reached.

If the measure passes, the revenue would go into a specific fund that would be used to reach the 55 percent mandate if the General Fund appropriation falls short. Any money from the fund must be used for so-called “direct support,” such as instructor salaries, and may not be used for administrative purposes.

The fact that the tax would only affect high earners did not significantly erode support among wealthier respondents. Among people reporting household incomes of $100,000 or more, 60 percent said they would vote for the measure, and 35 percent said they would not. In the lowest income bracket, those with incomes under $30,000, 66 percent said they supported it, while 22 percent did not.

Cheryl Howard, a Republican in Standish, said she supports the proposal.

“I don’t begrudge people the money they’ve earned. What bothers me is them paying their fair share,” she said. “If these rich people are using all these loopholes (to lower their taxes) then maybe we need to take a little bit of that for good programs, like to support education.”

Dan Partridge of Oakland said he did not support it, even though his mother is a retired teacher and his wife works as an education technician in a school.


“I’m not in support of any tax increase for anyone,” said Partridge. “I just think our government is far too large.”

“When I go to file my taxes, I’m disgusted,” he added. “I just feel like a victim.”

The poll of 506 likely voters was conducted for the newspaper by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center between Sept. 15-20. The survey has a margin of error of 4.3 percentage points.

Question 2 supporters include the Maine AFL-CIO, the Maine Education Association, the Maine Parent Teacher Association, the Maine State Employees Association, the Maine Small Business Coalition, the Maine People’s Resource Center and the Maine People’s Alliance. Opponents include the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce and Educate Maine, a business-backed education nonprofit.


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