Gov. Paul LePage tells Maine towns they need to cut local budgets

AUGUSTA — Gov. Paul LePage said in a letter to municipal officials across Maine on Thursday that his proposal to cut municipal revenue sharing for the next two years was forced by exceedingly tight budgets in other areas. He urged them to replace complaints with their own ideas to match government spending with available revenues.

File photo

Gov. Paul LePage wrote a letter to Maine municipalities that outlined his budget priorities. 

Democrats called the letter “insulting.”

In the letter, LePage said he couldn’t cut debt services because the “state must pay its bills” and couldn’t reduce funding for the judicial branch because the state’s courts are running behind schedule.

“Other core state functions — state police, corrections, our natural resources agencies — have been cut to the bone to feed continued growth in education and welfare spending, and they cannot be cut any further without reducing public safety or our future economy,” wrote LePage, according to a press release. “That leaves only the three large pots of money, and I chose revenue sharing.”

Municipal revenue sharing is a mechanism that the state uses to prevent local municipal budgets from relying too heavily on property taxes. When it is fully funded, towns and cities receive 5 percent of income and sales tax receipts, though in recent years the Legislature has reduced that amount to balance the state budget. LePage proposed suspending municipal revenue sharing altogether in his biennial budget proposal, which covers the two years beginning July 1 of this year.

To date, the Senate has accepted resolutions from more than 50 towns, cities and school districts in opposition to the proposed budget. According to a group called the Fair Share Now! coalition, which has a website that tracks which towns have passed or are working on resolutions against the state budget, more than 70 municipalities have passed resolutions opposing the budget and another 30 or more are considering them.

LePage argues that local governments can make the needed cuts to their budgets, even though he acknowledged it won’t be easy.

“Most letters I receive say we made the wrong choice and that we should restore the $200 million subsidy to municipalities, but they do not suggest other cuts that should be made at the state level,” said LePage, according to the press release. “It is easy to find fault and hard to find solutions. I welcome any suggestions town officials have to cut elsewhere in the state budget, but it is time for everyone to set complaints aside and offer solutions.”

The liberal Maine People’s Alliance attacked LePage for the letter and said that many municipal officials have suggested adjustments to the state’s tax code — such as reversing tax cuts for higher earners which were enacted by LePage and the Republican-controlled Legislature two years ago.

“In the months since the launch of the town resolution campaign, more than 70 town representative bodies have passed resolutions condemning Gov. LePage’s budget proposal and demanding a fairer approach,” said Maine People’s Alliance spokesman Mike Tipping, who is a blogger for the Bangor Daily News. “More than 40 percent of Maine people now live in a town that has passed a fair share resolution and more are passing each week.”

Senate Majority Leader Seth Goodall, D-Richmond, said most towns and cities have already cut as much as they can.

“You can’t deny the fact that the governor’s budget passes the buck on to our towns and raises taxes,” said Goodall in a prepared statement. “Maine’s municipalities have already been working together for years seeking savings.”

The Legislature’s Taxation Committee started holding public hearings this week on a number of Democrat-sponsored bills that would raise taxes. A hearing Friday will address a bill that calls for a sales tax increase to support municipal sharing.

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Comments

FRANK EARLEY's picture

What exactly is going on between his ears????

I'm not sure I understand exactly what LePage is trying to accomplish, but forcing the tax payers, the people who pay his salary to suffer, just so he can fulfill his pipe dream is mind boggling. He decides to stop revenue sharing to cities and towns, his response to the problem of individual town financial problems is, "you figure it out". He leaves it up to cities and towns to decide whether to raise property taxes or not. Even though he's pretty much left no other choice.
It's a back handed way of raising taxes and still keep his own hands clean. After all, a true Republican doesn't raise taxes, they just force others to do the dirty work. We can just chalk this up as another LePage, slap in the face to constituents. I'm getting tired of his games, his deceitful actions and total lack of concern for the people of Maine. We need change, and we need it yesterday. Everyday this idiot is allowed to stay in office, it's more money out of all our pockets. 499 days and counting. How many more days can you afford????????????

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Its only a matter of time..........

It's only a matter of time, as long as there is a Republican in charge of this State, we can expect the State to be run in a Republican fashion. The bright side of all this is the shear number of people who disapprove of the Republican madness. It would seem that their only purpose in life is to protect the wealthy. In doing so they have no regards for the middle class and the poor. This has been demonstrated over and over again. LePage is way beyond reasoning with. He is stuck in his ways and methods. All we can do now, is to wait. Wait until he is booted out of office and the rebuilding of this State can begin. There will be much to repair, many programs to restart. The people of Maine should be able to decide for themselves the best use of the taxpayers hard earned money. Any and all tax breaks for the rich will be cut immediately.
They say you should learn from your mistakes. If that's true, then LePage has much to teach us...........................

ANTHONY NAZAR's picture

Solutions Lepage hates

Rescind the tax cut that went into place this year. We can't afford it as a state.

Increase the sales tax 1% as did another Republican, Jock McKeirnan.

These two actions taken together should allow the state government to live up to its statutory and moral obligations making Maine a more attractive state in which to live, do business and pay taxes (aka the dues for living in a 1st World country).

Our total tax burden as a nation as a percent of GDP ranks #48 in the world. We CAN afford it. Stop listening to Norquist and his sock puppets a Maine Heritage.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Why is cutting spending

Why is cutting spending always off the table?

“We CAN afford it.”

No Tony, you want someone else to afford it for you. If you can afford it, open your GD wallet and send the government your money. There is no law against paying more taxes than you need to.

Jason Theriault's picture

Cuts and tax increases

It's not that cuts are off the table, it's that taxes are off the table. I mean, the first thing Tony suggested was undoing a TAX CUT. I mean, how can your justify tax cuts when we are not paying our bills. I mean, it's not one or the other, we can do both. And if LePage was serious about getting his budget passed, he would use both, because the Democratically controlled state house isn't going to pass ANY of this.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Maine has been getting is tax

Maine has been getting is tax increase during previous administrations, not is the time for cuts.

Robert McQueeney's picture

Taxpayers need consideration

LePage has cut spending and is continuing to pay our (state) bills. This is what any responsible person does when money is tight. Many of the complaints, and I've heard them at my own town meeting, want revenue sharing back, but offer no solutions that would help balance the budget. The well has run dry, there isn't any more. This is what we have to work with and we are going to work with it.

I understand everyone wants every service there is for the city or town to provide, but those services cost money. And no one wants to pay more money. Something has got to give. It's more money, less service, or more debt which will prevent us from having more services as interest payments will eat up a larger chunk of the pie.

Has anyone considered cutting town services? I know it will put a (relative) few out of work or cut their pay. I've been out of work and had my pay cut, as have a god number of Maine taxpayers. Why should government employees be exempt?

What about the growing welfare rolls? Has anyone suggested they perform some work for the funds? Cleaning the public parks? Anything?

MARK GRAVEL's picture

I find it strange that no one

I find it strange that no one question whether a service is really needed or not. No one questions whether a service can be provided more cost effectively. Perhaps it is not in the best interest of those providing the service.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

easy peasy

Republicans have this one figured out in a snap. As long as they get theirs, nobody else needs anything and they can just stop their whining. No questions needed there.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

The well has run dry

People who do not want to pay for services should move to communities that have none. People who live in towns that have police, fire and emt services and plowed and tarred roads and schools should realize they are not free and someone will have to pay for them. And maybe we should be looking at the people who profit from living in communities with services for the money to pay for those services rather than at people who have nothing. That being said there is plenty of waste in government. Take our state legislature. It is way too big for the size of our population. We need to consolidate, and consolidate some more.. And the governor has pretty much committed to doing nothing for the rest of his tenure so maybe we should lay him off. And as for the federal government the Congress has pretty much accomplished two things in the last 10 years. They have passed a law making it illegal for them to do insider trading and just recently passed another law gutting the first law making it legal for them to steal. And of course they reversed the Sequester rules on the FAA so they wouldn't be inconvenieced at the airport on their trip home. Notwithstanding the inconveniences the sequester is causing seniors who lost their meals on wheels and the kids who lost their head start classes and the hundreds of thousands of other workers who have been laid off, this was quite the accomplishment for them. Too bad they didn't have time to look at the billion dollars worth of military contracts that went out last week. Maybe there could have been cuts there.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Here we go again with the

Here we go again with the pendulum rebuttal – less and lower cost services by no means no services, especially in a state that has more non-teaching staff than teachers [1].

Maine, clean up your mess before asking for more taxes.

.... fad to dueling banjos ...

[1] - http://www.dailytoreador.com/online_features/money_and_finance/article_3...

Robert McQueeney's picture

Actually

Isn't our governor trying to consolidate the school supervision in Maine? And "everyone" is against that? He compared Maine to Florida, more students and a whole lot less supervisors. It's not that he isn't going to do anything, he's apparently trying, if anyone will look to see.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Paul LePage tells Maine towns they need to cut local budgets

Mainers, 13.04.25 13:11
. .The guy should take a year off L W O P , and donate his salary, the protective detail's , and Blain House budgets to the local municipalities and townships
It would serve two purposes - balance his ƒat budget and show genuine concern and understanding
People like him are a walking disaster
" Ya' wanna' help , Paul ? Don't help . "
Just a †hought • /s Steve, a Democrat

MARK GRAVEL's picture

You mean as opposed to those

You mean as opposed to those people who created Maine’s debt in the first place?

Now that is sound economics. Let's see how works on a federal level - oops been there doing that.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

It's your problem

So when the governor proposed his tax cut he said he was sure we could afford it. Apparently we can afford it as long as we don't need teachers, police, firemen, trash removal and plowing. Otherwise, we get a raise in our property taxes so his rich buddies get a cut in theirs. This was supposedly, by the way, the road to prosperity and jobs. Last I looked the latest job numbers do not show much of a bump. In fact if you subtract all the folks he has laid off from the few new jobs that have come our way we are probably in a deficit. Instead of looking to Florida, Michigan and the fracking Koch brothers for advice, he should be looking at North Carolina where they actually are attracting businesses. Yes they have low taxes but they also have a sixteen million dollar fund to attract businesses. Last month there was a flap over the fact that MetLife required eight million of that fund. No problem though the state raised another eight million. It would appear that it takes more than a sign and a tax break to draw companies and jobs to our state. I don't think high property taxes is one of those things.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Hear the tick-tick of the

Hear the tick-tick of the pendulum? More cost effective services does not mean no services; I repeat myself.

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