Gov. LePage should stop exploiting young Mainers to push tax cuts for the rich
Compared to previous outings Governor LePage has made to Androscoggin county, his most recent trip to Lewiston this week for a public forum was relatively subdued.
He didn’t, for example, call for the public execution of the city’s legislative delegation this time around (a high standard, to be sure, has been set for what now qualifies as outrageous behavior). He did, however, detail what I can only describe as a truly bizarre solution to Maine’s ongoing struggle to keep young people in the state: eliminating the state’s income tax. Not alleviating crippling student loan debt, or raising stagnant wages, but lowering and then eliminating the state income tax.
I find this odd primarily because never in my life as a millennial Mainer have I heard a single one of my peers rank income tax rates as a factor of any significance in making the monumental decision of whether to make a go of it in Maine or to leave their families and social networks behind to seek opportunities elsewhere. In fact, by far the most common response I hear when I ask my friends who were forced to move away why they left is the need to make a living wage to pay off their student loans. It’s ironic, then, that in this very same speech, LePage went on to warn that moving our minimum wage closer to a living wage, like the initiative taking shape to be put to the Maine people in 2016, would prove disastrous for me and my friends.
How a proposed tax cut that will mostly benefit those already making six-figures will ensure my peers remain here, while initiatives that would ensure they could stay in Maine and earn enough money to make student-loan payments would force their flight is simply incomprehensible. His statements only make sense if one replaces the term “young people” with “wealthy big-business owners whose income is derived from the payment of substandard wages.” Considering he apparently went on to name high energy costs as a competing factor in youth flight, along with marginal tax rates, I’m not completely unwilling to abandon this premise.
If Governor LePage wants to cut breaks for his big-business allies he should just say so; it would certainly be a less controversial statement than any other number of quotes on the public record attributed to him. But if he really wants to get serious about preserving the integrity of Maine’s future, he needs to actually start listening to the people he says that he wants to help. We need concrete solutions for reigning in student loans. We need jobs that pay us a wage that allows us to get out of debt-bondage. We need the state to live up to its commitment to fund public education so that we see a path to success in the state for the families that we would like to build.
We need LePage to get serious about helping us, not to use our struggles to push his own agenda.
Photo of Gov. LePage at Lewiston town hall via Andi Parkinson.
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