Ballot proposal is a recipe for higher taxes on overburdened working families.
WASHINGTON – Last November, members of groups such as the Maine Municipal Association (MMA) decided to place an initiative on the Nov. 4th, 2003 ballot that would require the state government to increase funding for grades K-12 from 43% to 55% of the state budget (1A).
But in order to obtain the necessary signatures to get the initiative on the ballot, the authors ran it under a heading that mentioned lowering property taxes. Maine\’s governor decided to add his own proposition to the referendum (1B), which would delay the funding increase until 2010. But neither measure will reduce property taxes – they will just increase spending at both the state and local levels.
"Politicians keep telling their constituents that raising state taxes will lower local property taxes," said Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform, "but saying it a million times won\’t make it true. States that have experimented with this idea quickly found themselves facing higher state taxes and higher local taxes. The idea that Maine can pay for more education funding without higher taxes is simply a farce and voters should not be fooled by this gimmick."
The initiative fails to disclose how the state would pay for the increase in K-12 funding. The state would eventually be forced to raise taxes even more to pay for this unnecessary increase in education funding. This comes on top of the fact that Maine already has the highest state and local tax burden as a percent of income in the entire country. The initiative seems even more outrageous when one considers that back in 2000 Democratic Governor Angus King proposed to provide every 7th grader in the entire state with a laptop "forever."
"Maine residents are not undertaxed," continued Norquist. "Maine faces the highest tax burden in the country, and it is a fraud for politicians to demand more money from working families under the pretext of local property tax relief. Voters have a clear choice in this ballot initiative: higher taxes to pay off special interests or more money for their families. Judging from recent initiatives in Alabama, Virginia, and Washington, voters will only increase their taxes if they\’re duped into it."
The latest polls show 32% favor 1A, 35% want 1B and 28% desire 1C (no taxes). In order for A or B to win they would need 50% plus one vote. If 1-C (none of the above) does win Bob Stone from Common Sense for Maine taxes hopes it will encourage the Legislature to consider "true tax reform."