February 8, 2019

Fiscal responsibility in state government a top priority

By Senator Bill Diamond

I know many folks are concerned about taxes. There has been a lot of discussion in the media about new ideas and proposals that may raise taxes to fund new programs. I want to assure you all that resisting raising taxes continues to be my top priority, along with many of my colleagues in the legislature. Please don’t think that just because one legislator proposes raising taxes that many of us will go along with it – several of us don’t.

If a new program is introduced that costs money, it must be funded in a fiscally responsible way — that is, within existing revenue streams and without raiding the state’s “rainy day fund.”

One new proposal would fund 12 weeks of paid medical leave by creating a .5% surtax on worker earnings. I support paid family leave, but this is the wrong way to do it. The governors of Vermont and New Hampshire recently announced a joint plan to support six weeks of paid family medical leave, and did so without raising taxes. We can do the same in Maine.

Another proposal I have seen would create a tax on certain fuels based on their carbon content. I know how much of a struggle high heating oil bills can be for folks, and this would only make that worse. There is no way I could support a proposal that would raise the price of heating fuel.

http://fiddleheadcenter.org/index.htmlRecent years have seen proposals to raise or otherwise expand sales taxes. I firmly oppose doing so, because low-income families pay a disproportionate amount of their income in sales taxes compared with those who are better off. We cannot fund state government on the backs of low- and middle- several bills that propose allowing municipalities to raise additional revenue through local sales taxes. The problem with these proposals is that some communities will be paying even higher taxes than they do currently.
income families. This year, there are

We’ve seen several attempts in the past few years to raise taxes through the referendum process. This includes Question 1 this past year, which would have increased taxes on households making over $128,400 by 1.9%, and an additional 1.9% to be paid by their employer. For small businesses where the employee and employer are the same person, this is a double whammy that amounts to a 3.8% tax increase. I spoke out strongly against this proposal and was glad to see it defeated at the ballot box.  

There is also a bill in this year that would add a 3% income tax surcharge on incomes over $200,000 per year in order to increase education funding. If increasing education funding is a priority, we should find the money within existing revenue streams, not raise taxes. Like Question 1, this would have the biggest impact on small businesses, who very much need our support to get by and pay their employees.

I want you all to know that despite the many new proposals to raise taxes for new, well-intentioned programs, my preference is to set priorities that can be funded within our existing budget and not resort to raising taxes.

Maine families and small businesses pay a lot in taxes, and it’s my goal to reduce that burden. If you have any ideas, questions or concerns, please feel free to contact my office at 287-1515 or diamondhollyd@aol.com. My line is always open to you.

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