Gov. LePage’s legacy is tax cuts for the rich, underfunded schools
Over the past two years, I have had the honor of serving as the House Chair of the Legislature’s Taxation Committee. I have had the opportunity to better understand Maine’s tax code by listening to the perspective of thousands of Mainers. Like many of you, I see what is happening. Under Governor LePage, the wealthy have benefited from extravagant tax cuts that have led to a chronic underfunding of our schools.
The Governor has been pushing for major tax cuts in nearly every budget he has proposed. Each time he has championed more tax breaks for the wealthiest Mainers. Right now, someone making $40,000 per year pays the same top tax rate as a millionaire. That’s not right.
In Governor LePage’s first year in office, he gave those earning more than $360,000 a year a yearly tax giveaway of $2,995. Had it not been for the legislature’s willingness to propose and enact an alternative, the Governor would have doled out another $10,000 a year for those raking in more than $400,000 a year through his proposed budget in 2015.
These numbers leave me scratching my head. End of year bonuses in the form of tax cuts for the wealthiest doesn’t seem to make sense when we are failing to meet obligations to our next generation.
This November we have the opportunity to change direction and stop shortchanging our schools. Right now the state is paying the exact same amount on public schools as we did in 2008. The exact same dollar figure – 8 years later.
Voters in 2003 and 2004 asked the Legislature to fund schools at 55%, but LePage’s tax cuts have made this goal harder to achieve and the state is now shortchanging our schools by over $150 million each year. Wealthy individuals got a handout while property taxpayers are taking on more of the burden to fund schools.
When you vote this fall you will have the chance to improve tax fairness and better fund Maine’s future. The Stand Up for Students ballot initiative adds a 3% surcharge on adjusted gross income above $200,000 and dedicates this funding to local schools. The initiative has the ability to bring our state funding of schools back to the 55% state investment voters demanded, while also making good on a basic expectation that the wealthiest Mainers pay a reasonable share of the state’s taxes.
I am supporting the Stand Up for Students initiative in November and hope the good people of this state will join me.
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