Tax Flight — This Bird Ain’t Got Wings

According to a story on MPBN, Maine legislators heard presentations from the LePage administration today on LePage’s plan to reduce and ultimately eliminate the state’s estate tax.

Elimination of the estate tax will cost Maine $35 million a year in revenue and benefit fewer than 1 percent of all taxpayers.

In what isn’t exactly a new theme, LePage claims the estate tax is driving wealthy Mainers to migrate to other states.

Where is the data to support this claim, we’d like to ask?

Studies show that there are a number of reasons people relocate from one state to another and that few of them have to do with taxes.  A report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities states, “When people do relocate, a large body of scholarly evidence shows that they do so primarily for new jobs, cheaper housing, or a better climate.” 

Another report, “The Impact of Taxes on Migration in New England,” concludes, “The limited available research on the impact on taxes on cross-state migration suggests that taxes do not play a very important role.”

Even if taxes do sometimes affect out-migration decisions of some individuals in states like New Jersey, we’re guessing that is less common here.  It’s not like you can find
Maine’s unique mix of spectacular coastline, natural grandeur, and local culture anywhere else.

And, yes, the quality of local services and amenities is an important factor in decisions to relocate.  It doesn’t look like Maine communities will have much to offer in terms of services if LePage gets his way on estate and income taxes.

–Read more about this issue in today’s Bangor Daily News.

If it favors the wealthy, LePage Supports it.

Shift more of Maine’s tax burden to the poor and middle class? This will be the result if LePage gets his way and eliminates the state income tax.  As quoted in the BDN, a  2011 Maine Revenue services  study found eliminating state income tax would have the following effect:  “The bottom 80 percent of Mainers (incomes less than $86,789) would have an aggregate $223 million tax increase, while the top 1 percent would have a $183 million tax cut. ”

According to an Albert DiMillo opinion piece in the BDN, this added burden to the middle class would be on top of an existing situation in which Maine’s middle class already pay a higher proportion of their income to state taxes than do the wealthy.  Read the full article here.

LePage — Miserably Wrong on Environment

Despite our dependence on tourism, Maine’s #1 industry, LePage refuses to admit that quality of place is something that deserves attention.

That shouldn’t be a surprise considering that LePage appointed a former industrial and corporate lobbyist to became commissioner of the state’s Department of Environmental Protection.  As documented by Colin Woodard in his PPH series, “The lobbyist in the henhouse: Whose interests is Maine’s DEP commissioner serving?”  the LePage administration has consistently and repeatedly disregarded environmental safeguards in order to safeguard the profits of the chemical, drug, oil, and real estate development industries.

Maine’s lakes generate $3.5 billion in economic activity, yet LePage couldn’t bring himself to support a bipartisan bill to protect them. The League of Conservation Voters supports Mike Michaud, Angus King now supports Mike Michaud. We support Mike Michaud too.lepage_wrong3

Paul LePage — Just Plain Wrong on Healthcare

Maine is one of just two states in the nation in which the number of people without health insurance increased in 2013.

Please read the above sentence again slowly.  As far as we are concerned, that is all you need to know about LePage and healthcare.  However, you can read more in a recent Portland Press Herald editorial which states that the number of uninsured in Maine rose by nearly 12,000 last year.  lepage_wrong2

LePage and Jobs — A Maine Parable

Paul LePage presides over the installation of a new sign that encapsulates his administration’s priority of putting politics before people and pandering to the wealthy. LePage states the new sign is a response to critics who have challenged him to provide more specifics on just what kind of business he will create.

Once upon a time, there was a place called Maine — a beautiful land of lakes, mountains, and coastline.  It was never an easy place to live, but people worked hard, and even in the worst of times, the wood and produce from the public orchard helped everyone to get by.

In the midst of one of the bad times, a certain candidate for pooh bah came before the people.  “Jobs,” shouted the people.

Jobs!” he shouted back — and so they elected him.

On the day after the election, the people stood before him and said, “Excuse us sir, but we would like to have jobs.”

“You will have jobs, but first we need to help the job creators,” said the pooh bah.

“How can we do that?” asked the people.

“They need half of the trees in the public orchard,” the pooh bah replied.

Gasps filled the arena.  The people loved the orchard — and depended on  it.  But they also needed jobs, so they agreed to the pooh bah’s request.  Men came in and cut the trees and sent them up the distant hill to the job creators who lived there.

On the  next day, the people again stood before the pooh bah and said, “Excuse us sir, we would very much like to  have jobs.”

The pooh bah smiled at them his widest smile.  “We will have plenty of jobs,” he said.  “Only first we must get rid of the regulations that kill jobs”
“What regulations?” the people asked.

“Regulations like, ‘No building roads in the public orchard,’” the pooh bah said.

Many were skeptical.  But then again, the  public orchard was already half cut over.  What harm would there be in widening the dirt track into a road?  The next morning, they woke to find a 4-lane highway, complete with median strip and guard rails, running through the orchard and on up the hill toward the houses of the job creators.

Most were aghast, but what could they do?   Nothing would make the highway back into a forest again.  They stood before the pooh bah and said, “We thought by now, sir, that we would have some jobs.”

“You don’t have jobs because our energy costs are too high,” the pooh bah said.  “We need to  lower them.”

By now, more of them had doubts, but they believed it when he said this. They knew it was true   Energy costs were too high.  Few of them could still afford to heat their homes.  “What will it cost?”  they asked.

“Half the remaining trees in the orchard,” said he pooh bah.

Once more the people agreed to the pooh bah’s request.  Once more, trees were cut from the orchard and trundled up the hill toward the houses of the job creators.

On the  next day, the people again stood before the pooh bah and said even more stridently this time, “Sir, you said you would create jobs.”

“Surely you misunderstood me,” the pooh bah said.  “Pooh bahs cannot create jobs.  They only create the conditions in which jobs occur.”

The people grumbled.  If they had misinterpreted him, it was because he had willed them to do so. . They now had less than before — and beyond that, the orchard had been decimated. They stood and waited and muttered to each other. This made the pooh bah nervous.

“The job creators, they tell me there  are plenty of jobs,” he finally stammered.  “They say you people just don’t have the right skills.”

A cold silence filled the arena. Did the pooh bah take them for fools?. “Did they say anything else,” asked one man in the back.  “No.” said the pooh bah.  “But they have been working hard.  We need to make sure things go good for them in their retirement.

Fortunately or unfortunately, this is where the written part of the story ends.  It is up to you, dear reader, and your fellow citizens to decide what happens next.

LePage in league with terrorists?

As much as we may have come to believe that Maine Governor Paul LePage is unintelligent, inarticulate, misinformed, and misguided, it seems a stretch to believe he could be in league with a terrorist group that believes the United States Government is illegitimate, but it seems this is exactly the case.  News stories breaking today show that from January to September, 2013, LePage met at least eight times with members of a group who call themselves Sovereign Citizens, a group that is recognized by the FBI and Maine state law enforcement as belonging to “a domestic terrorist movement.”

Paul LePage is a nutjob — and a dangerous one.  Many have suspected it.  Now we have the proof.