In the Feb. 9 Portland Press Herald, Giovani Twigge, corporate vice president at Idexx Laboratories – a company worth over $1 billion – said of the 3 percent public education tax surcharge for anyone who makes over $200,000 a year: “This tax sends the message, very strongly, that the successes of innovation and entrepreneurship are punished.”

Greg Boulos, partner at The Boulos Co. – which is affiliated with CBRE Group, a multibillion-dollar real estate firm – aired his complaints in the same article, speculating that if high-income residents are forced to pay the 3 percent education surcharge, charitable giving and support for the arts are at risk.

I cannot understand how the wealthy are being “punished” for paying their fair share toward public education. Schools should be generously funded, but they’re not, and those who make significantly less than Mr. Twigge and Mr. Boulos are filling in the void by paying additional property taxes every year (my taxes, for example, have risen $300 in a single year).

This is the same rhetoric we’ve heard from corporate interests for years: If you make us wealthy folks pay more taxes, we’ll leave and set up shop elsewhere, but if you cut our taxes we’ll “reward you” by sticking around so that you can keep your job, your charities and your arts.

This tired perpetuation of trickle-down economics holds Mainers hostage so that the wealthy can grow their private interests, with blatant disregard for the public good.

If the tax surcharge is repealed, Mainers’ votes didn’t matter. That is not democracy. That is oligarchy, where the wealthiest of individuals in the state call the shots and the rest of us are left empty-handed. We should not accept this as the norm. The people of Maine have spoken, and this coalition should give the referendum a chance.

Jacob Powers


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