I oppose the local-option sales tax proposal currently before the Legislature and recently endorsed by the Telegram’s Editorial Board. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Maine is already 16th in terms of sales tax burden and 10th in terms of total state and local tax burden. That is too high. I understand the pressure on state and local budgets to meet new demands for services, but a local-option sales tax will increase our tax burden by adding new taxes on top of what we pay now.

It doesn’t matter if a family pays its sales taxes from their state pocket or from their local pocket, all the money comes out of the same paycheck. Our elected officials must stop considering the taxpayer the first choice to pay for new services.

Unfortunately, there will always be more needs than there is money to pay for them. But before our elected officials look to the public to pay for new services, they need to take steps to make the current tax policy fairer for the middle class, and do a better job at prioritizing services that require taxpayer funding. The state Legislature could start by repealing the income tax cut they gave the wealthiest earners a few years ago.

Our state budget, and the budget of the town in which I live, increases every year. There may be one or two years somewhere in the historical record when a budget decreased, but that would be the rare exception to the rule. The local-option sales tax, with its new local sales taxes on top of existing state sales taxes, would increase the tax burden on Maine people even more and drive municipal budgets even higher.