Maine people deserve better, they deserve tax relief

Over the next two years, state government will spend close to $11 billion without one penny returned to you in income tax relief

This is House Republican Leader Billy Bob Faulkingham with the Weekly Republican Radio Address.

For months, Republicans have responsibly called for tax relief.

Mindful that Democrats want to spend taxpayer money and Republicans want state government to take less, Republicans have reasonably asked for a mere $200 million in income tax relief in a $10.3 billion budget. That budget number could grow as high as $11 billion when new revenue projections come out in April.    

Rather than follow the traditional budget process that ends June 21, waiting to see how much money the state will take in, Democrats will violate a state budget law that they supported, pretend they Legislature’s work is done three months early, then ram through a partisan budget this week.

They effectively ensured that there is no input from parts of Maine represented by Republicans, over 450 of Maine’s 483 municipalities, and 600,000 voters.

The budget process, requiring two-thirds support, is designed to ensure that the priorities of both parties are reflected in the budget, mindful of which party is in control.  

Anything less than a two-thirds budget developed by the third Wednesday in June, is a failure of leadership.

This year’s failure rests squarely on the Democrats unwillingness to give Maine income tax payers $200 million in income tax relief, primarily benefiting low to middle earners.

We are all impacted by painful oil, gas, electric, utility, medical, and food prices.  Those items are part of the additional $7,500 that the average Maine family pays to live in Maine, compared to January 2021.

Republicans recognize that the burden of these historically high prices falls disproportionally on the two-thirds of American families living paycheck to paycheck.

After taking in $1.5 billion extra revenue over the last year, then giving back some in checks, it is unreasonable not to lower income taxes by $200 million to help people.

Senator Patrick Moynihan, the late U.S. Senator from New York, a Democrat, once said:

“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”  

Here are some facts on how the traditional process is being abused and violated so that up to $11 billion will be spent without lowering what you pay the state in income tax:

  • In 2005, the Legislature passed a law limiting the rapid growth of state spending once Maine reached 55% support for education. Under that limit, the budget cannot exceed $9.9 billion. Then legislator Mills, Senate President Jackson, and Senate Appropriations Chair Peggy Rotundo all voted for that law.
  • To get around this budget limitation law, Governor Mills included a budget provision to change the law in order to match her spending.
  • To deny Republicans any input in the state budget, Democrats will use a procedural loophole by passing a $9.88 billion budget, then pretending the Legislature’s work is done in March, three months early. They voted to carry  thousands of bills over to the next session, since their work is “done.”  One way or another, their partisan budget will get around the state budget limitation law.
  • After the Legislature adjourns, Governor Mills will call us back into Special Session to do the work Democrats claimed was done.
  • Then a couple weeks later, the Revenue Forecasting Committee will report that even more of your money is available to spend. The new projected total could reach $11 billion.
  • House Republicans asked if Maine taxpayers could have just $200 million of the $11 billion. Democrats said no.

Those are facts, not opinions.

Our modest proposal would help all taxpayers. Everyone pays the same tax rate on the first $24,500 in income. The Republican proposal lowers the rate on the first $24,500 in income from 5.8% to 4.5%.

That translates into an average, ongoing tax reduction of $390.

Those are all facts.

In our opinion, the state is in a position where it can honor existing commitments, AND, return money to taxpayers trying desperately to keep pace with rising price increases.

Instead, Democrats will circumvent a law they passed, and manipulate the rules to avoid the traditional bipartisan budget process.

That is all be done so that every penny can be spent with no income tax relief.

This has been House Republican Leader Billy Bob Faulkingham with the Weekly Republican Radio Address.

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