- Maine Governor Asks Lawmakers a Billion Dollar Question
- May 5, 2015 | Authors: David H. Godenswager; David M. Kall; Susan Millradt McGlone
- Law Firm: McDonald Hopkins LLC - Cleveland Office
- A semantically bold press release posted by the Office of Gov. LePage asks “The Billion Dollar Question: Will You Support Eliminating the State Income Tax?" The press release refers to a letter the governor recently sent to state lawmakers proposing a constitutional amendment to eliminate the income tax. He asserted that the “path to prosperity for Maine is a future with no state income tax,” which he gleaned from his conversations with constituents in town hall meetings over the last few months.
In January, the governor released his $6.5 billion fiscal year 2016-17 budget proposal, which seeks to gradually reduce the income tax burden by 2019 despite the budget’s inclusion of a recommendation by the Revenue Forecasting Committee to increase income tax revenue through 2017. In fiscal years 2016 and 2017, the budget calls for a reduction of income tax revenue by $176 billion and $546 billion respectively.
At the time of the budget’s release, the Bangor Daily News summarized additional key components, like reduced corporate income tax rates, a broader, higher sales tax, and elimination of the home mortgage deduction, among other things.
Gov. LePage also wants to accomplish the following through the budget proposal:
- Eliminate certain state jobs, most of which are currently vacant, which would increase the attrition rate from 0.6 percent to three percent in the next two years, and save approximately $10.8 million;
- Help school districts consolidate their administrations by providing $5 million statewide in both fiscal year 2016 and 2017;
- Reduce state funding for teacher retirement costs by about $35 million in fiscal year 2016 and $31 million in fiscal year 2017;
- Spend about $1.1 million to create a new system to collect liquor excise taxes; and
- Help people suffering from mental illness with $13 million in new money for the Bridging Rental Assistance Program, $11.6 million for funding programs required by the state’s mental health consent decree, and more than $30 million over the biennium to eliminate waitlists for Section 21 Tier II and III home- and community-based services, plus additional new funding to reduce service waitlists for adults with autism and brain injuries.