DATE: 12/06/2004 09:26:00 AM
Tax Two-Step - Governor John Baldacci is promising to lower our property taxes by increasing dependence on the income and sales taxes.
That's the essence of the plan developed in Augusta this month. Baldacci wants to limit municipal taxes by increasing state aid to schools. So instead of paying for schools with your property taxes, you'll pay for them with all the other taxes Mainers are forced to put out. The plan also increases refunds for property owners. Someone should inform the governor that shifting the tax burden from one ledger sheet to another does not actually lower it.
Lawmakers in Augusta should also ask the governor why he's increasing spending for schools instead of looking at ways to decrease the huge financial burdens education puts on local budgets. A bumper sticker in New Hampshire says it well - it takes a school to bankrupt a village. Maine's school-age population has fallen four percent over the past ten years, but school spending has risen over 50 percent. Where is the money going and why aren't we consolidating smaller districts into larger ones?
The governor's plan is a defensive move against the citizens of Maine who are growing angry with Augusta's inability to decrease the enormous tax burden placed on Maine's citizens. Taxes are stifling Maine's businesses and driving employers out of the state. All the while, Augusta continues to spend more and more money on projects that are doomed to failure, like state healthcare. Maine's Republicans being who they are, I expect the governor will have little resistance. Maine is becoming a one-party state, and we're beginning to see the costs. Maine's Republicans have to wake up from their stupor and fight back, or risk being made even more irrelevant than they already are.