December 15, 2017
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‘Better Deal for Maine’ grows economy from middle out

By Mark Eves, Special to the BDN
Gabor Degre | BDN | BDN
Gabor Degre | BDN | BDN
House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick

Maine is at a crossroads. Our economy lags behind the nation, and our tax system is rigged for those at the very top. Gov. Paul LePage has proposed a budget that will make it worse.

Democrats are introducing plan that will help make it better: A Better Deal for Maine.

A Better Deal for Maine rejects the governor’s failed top-down strategies that have bankrupted states across the country. We believe the economy grows best when it grows from the middle out. A Better Deal for Maine puts more money in the pockets of working Mainers and makes smart investments in our students and workers so we can grow good jobs and strong wages in our state.

Our plan rejects the failed trickle-down economic policies that give tax breaks to the wealthy at the expense of the rest of us. Simply put, it is middle-class economics. It lowers property taxes for all Maine families and invests in our schools and workers by asking the wealthy and corporations to pay their fair share.

Here’s how it works:

— It increases property tax relief by $120 million dollars.

— It invests $20 million more dollars per year in education.

— It prevents property tax hikes by increasing revenue sharing to $80 million to fund local fire, police and public works.

— It cuts income taxes by hundreds of dollars for the vast majority of Maine families while asking the wealthiest 5 percent to pay their fair share.

And, unlike the governor’s plan, it is fully paid for and won’t leave a future $300 million hole in the budget.

If you are a young family or a senior struggling to keep up with rising property taxes, our deal is better for you. While the LePage budget cuts taxes for large corporations and the wealthy by eliminating property tax relief for young families and seniors, A Better Deal for Maine gives direct property tax relief to all Maine homeowners.

If you are a parent, student or worker, our deal is better for you. LePage’s budget abandons investment in our schools, students and workers. A Better Deal for Maine invests in public education from pre-kindergarten through high school, college and job training programs. It will promote economic success for our students and workers and set the state on the path for a stronger economic future.

If you live or work in rural Maine, our deal is better for you. LePage’s budget eliminates funding for revenue sharing that supports fire, police and public works in Maine communities. A Better Deal for Maine keeps the state’s promise and increases funding for revenue sharing and rejects taxes on nonprofits.

If you work hard and are simply trying to save for retirement or make sure you have a little set aside for college for your kids or an emergency, our deal is better for you.

Under our plan, a married couple with two children, earning a combined income of $100,000 per year, will see a $600 overall tax reduction.

A single mom with one child earning an income of $30,000 will see a $177 overall tax cut, and a retired couple will see a tax cut of $194.

In contrast, LePage’s plan gives the largest tax cuts to Maine’s wealthiest residents. It gives 50 percent of income tax cuts to the top 10 percent. Under A Better Deal for Maine, 98 percent of income tax relief goes to the bottom 95 percent.

At a time when our economy is struggling and job growth and wages lag behind the nation, the governor’s plan doubles down on failed trickle-down economics and shortchanges the very things that make up the foundational pieces of a strong, sustainable economy — investments in schools, public safety, transportation, job training and health care.

Worse, it sets the stage for a future budget crisis that will result in deep cuts to our schools.

Maine families deserve a better deal. And that’s what we are offering — a responsible and fair plan that prioritizes tax cuts for the middle class, lowers property taxes for all Maine homeowners and invests in our schools, communities and our economic future.

Lawmakers of all stripes should support this better deal for Maine families.

Rep. Mark Eves, D-North Berwick, is speaker of the Maine House.


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