LePage calls for action, support in cutting taxes

LEWISTON — Gov. Paul LePage drew rousing applause from the crowd several times during Sunday's Tax Day Rally at the Franco-American Heritage Center in Lewiston. Sponsored by Maine Taxpayers United, the rally aimed to raise awareness and remind Mainers everywhere the state carries one of the highest tax burdens in the nation.

Jose Leiva/Sun Journal


Judy Hurst, left, and her husband, Wesley Hurst, of Old Orchard Beach, listen to speakers at the Tax Day Rally held at the Franco-American Heritage Center in Lewiston on Sunday. The featured speaker for the event was Gov. Paul LePage.

Jose Leiva/Sun Journal


Gov. Paul LePage left, chats with Will Hamilton of the  Maine Tax Payers United board of directors at the Tax Day Rally held at the Franco-American Heritage Center in Lewiston on Sunday.

"We have barely touched the surface. We have yet to convince the legislature that we need structural changes in the State of Maine," LePage told the crowd of about 200. "In my mind, we're nibbling. We've been nibbling for two years and we need to get to the heart of the issue."

According to Maine Taxpayers United, the state ranks sixth in the nation for the amount of taxes paid by its citizens, but 48th in personal income. LePage said Mainers make 82 percent of the national average for household income and stressed his mission to reduce taxes for Maine families in an effort to raise that number to 100 percent.

LePage spokeswoman Adrienne Bennett said the numbers provided were based on the 2008-10 median per capita income for New England states. Among the five states, Maine ranked last at $40,082 compared to New Hampshire, which ranked first at $66,303.

LePage said that figures recently released by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis reported Maine's income growth for 2011 was just 3.4 percent, compared to the national average of 5.1 percent. The sometimes embattled governor took sharp aim at legislators and lobbyists who he said criticize his attempts to cut spending and reduce taxes without offering solutions or alternatives.

"They will criticize. They will complain. And they will sit on their hands — which they have done for two years — without offering one item that would help bring the per capita income up to 100 percent," LePage said. "It's tough being governor. Not only do you have to listen to this all the time, but you have to sit in oversight of the largest adult daycare in the state of Maine."

In addition to reducing taxes, LePage criticized lobbyists and legislators supporting the state's present 100 megawatt limitation on all energy producers except wind because the latter is considered a renewable source. He pointed to Barber Foods in Portland as an example of a company losing jobs over the state's high cost of electricity. LePage said the Oklahoma based company that recently bought Barber Foods is moving production to the Midwest because the cost of electricity there is nearly half the cost in Maine.

Without naming names, LePage took specific aim at former governor Angus King, who is running for the open U.S. Senate seat left by Sen. Olympia Snowe. LePage said lobbyists and politicians repeatedly block legislation allowing the state to purchase electricity from a hydroelectric plant in Canada. The move could potentially reduce the standard rate paid by Mainers from 7.9 cents per kilowatt to 5-6 cents per kilowatt.

LePage also talked at length about education and welfare reform — two more hot-button issues facing the legislature right now.

"I'm known as a person who hates welfare," LePage said. "Well, folks, I've been there."

LePage reminded the crowd of his humble roots growing up across the street from the Franco-American Heritage Center — working and going to school. However, he also stressed that the state is paying $297 million more than the national average to support its welfare system.

On the education front, LePage said the national average spent per year is $10,000 per student, but Maine spends $4,000 more per year per student - bringing the state's investment to $740 million more than the national average. The governor then pointed to several statistics, including the state's 21 percent dropout rate, and 54 percent of its students entering the community college system requiring remedial coursework.

"Folks — we're failing. It's not working," LePage said of the amount of spending at the state level.

LePage called on politicians in Augusta — including those from his own Republican Party — to do what's right. He urged the crowd to hold elected officials' feet to the fire and hold them accountable to their districts and those they represent.

"In the state of Maine, each and every one of us in this room is spending $1,106 per year above the rest of our fellow Americans, and it doesn't have to be that way," LePage said. "All it takes is a little courage."

Other speakers rallied the crowd to make their voices known from local government races to Washington D.C.

Mary Adams, a tax activist and grassroots leader of the failed 2006 referendum effort to enact a Taxpayer Bill of Rights in Maine, called on the crowd to fight politicians she called "Redcoats." According to Adams, such politicians strive to make government larger while shrinking the voices and wallets of everyday citizens.

Adams urged rally goers not to vote for any politician in the upcoming November elections who has not signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. Organized by Americans for Tax Reform, the pledge asks every candidate for state and federal elected office to make a written commitment to their constituents to oppose and vote against tax increases.

LePage signed the pledge when he ran for governor in 2010.

"It's all about taxes — right?" asked Joe Boyd, of West Gardiner, who attended the rally. "And I'm concerned about taxes. I believe in lower taxes for American citizens. I definitely believe taxes are too high and they need to do something about lowering taxes — especially in Maine."

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Comments

 's picture

For All You Folks Who Love Canada's Health Care System

Get a fatal illness in Canada and get placed on a waiting list for a doctor. If people think its so great in Canada the last time I looked its like a 2 hour drive North! Mass exit anyone?!

No Thanks I learned long ago that the grass is greener next door is never true

Joe Berry's picture

ALEC TABOR and tax day rally

This is just putting politics before Maine people. A rally that supports the likes of ALEC(corporation lobbists) TABOR (Mary Adams) not Maine workers and their families.

RAYMOND FRECHETTE's picture

The cost of living in Maine

The cost of living in Maine is high, higher than in other parts of the country and it is not because of location. Much blame has to be laid at the costs imposed on all, citizen and businesses, by our legislature and city governments. Refusal to import electricity from Canada is a prime example of Maine cost of living being high. Taxes are a big villain-- loolk at the cost of registering a vehicle in Maine and compare to other States. The motor vehicle inspection that costs $12.50 or so does not pay a mechanic for the time to do an actual inspection and does nothing but rob citizens of $12.50. This pays for only 7 or 8 minutes of a mechanic's time, hardly enough to write the sticker and report. I'm not advocating a raise in cost here, but abolition; studies have shown States with no inspections fare just as well in safety. Maine has to lower its tax rates to attract industry, those industries that pay a better wage. Governor Lepage has the right ideas and the people of Maine should continue supporting him and not listen to his detractors who only want to continue in their cushy jobs and could care less for the average citizen and taxpayer.

 's picture

The auto inspection has

The auto inspection has always been a win-win scam for Maine. The state forces the citizens to get the inspection once a year for a nominal fee that should never have happened in the first place. Now the mechanic, knowing he's not making any money off the process is GOING to find something wrong to make up his expenses. One year I failed inspection at one garage...ball joints...surprised it's still on the road...we've all heard it. I went somewhere else and it was the brakes. This year I got stuck with some headlight lense restoration BS! I swear, if they have to kick in your tail light, you're going to pay something.

 's picture

LePage spokeswoman Adrienne

LePage spokeswoman Adrienne Bennett said the numbers provided were based on the 2008-10 median per capita income for New England states. Among the five states, Maine ranked last at $40,082 compared to New Hampshire, which ranked first at $66,303.
Does he realize that Maine is last in income?
Maybe he should be working on helping improve wages.

Mike Lachance's picture

FYI:

(a) Cut taxes for businesses, they can pay folks more.
(b) Cut taxes for citizens, they can buy more.
(c) Citizens buy more from businesses, businesses can make more.
(d) Businesses making more requires more citizens to be hired.
(e) More citizens hired means more tax revenue for state.
(f) More tax revenue for state means state can cut taxes for businesses and citizens.
(g) see (a)

Zack Lenhert's picture

The great "tax cuts pay for

The great "tax cuts pay for themselves" myth. Remind me again how long this process takes, because I'm still waiting for the Bush tax cuts to reduce our national deficit.

Mike Lachance's picture

No myth Zack. We're talking

No myth Zack.
We're talking economics, and deficits have little to do with tax policy and everything to do with spending and budgets.
Raising taxes never reduced deficits either.

Think, boy... Think.

 's picture

Clinton raised taxes and

Clinton raised taxes and balanced the budget

Mike Lachance's picture

Not quite...

Clinton may have raised taxes, but Republicans balanced the budget.
http://home.adelphi.edu/sbloch/deficits.html

Those are the facts and they dont lie.
Under Clinton's 39% top tier rate, the deficit went both up and down, just as Bush's 35% rate saw deficits go up and down... (down under Bush and the Repubs, up under Obama and the Dems)

Zack Lenhert's picture

You make absolutely no

You make absolutely no sense... tax policy dictates how much money the government can budget to spend. Are you trying to convince me that the Bush tax cuts have not contributed anything to our national deficit? Deficits don't matter?

I know its complex but try to follow me here. If they spend more than they take in, the government runs a deficit. If they take in less money, the deficit grows. See how that works?

And where is the proof that lower taxes stimulate the economy? The "Obama stimulus" was mostly tax breaks, how well did that work? Or the Bush tax cuts? Is there any evidence that they improved the economy?

The great "trickle down" experiment has proven to be a failure. Why should I support doubling down on the economic policies that brought about the largest recession since the Great Depression?

You are the boy that needs to do some thinking.

Mike Lachance's picture

The numbers

Who was on-watch when the deficits boomed?
Republicans?
nope.

Note that the top marginal tax rates have been the same (35%) since 2003, yet the deficits dropped under REPS and exploded under DEMS.
...whats more, Bush was actually reducing the defict until the DEMS took over in 2006/7.

Likewise, the rates were the same (39%) from 1993 through 2001 and the deficit dropped under REP control and rose under DEM control.

This is your wake up call Zack.
(and my apologies for the double post, below)

Zack Lenhert's picture

Did you even look at your own

Did you even look at your own graph? I noticed that when the tax rate was higher the deficit was generally lower, except for the run-up to the Great Depression.

I also noticed that who controlled the the branches of the government didn't really matter. Take a look at the low deficits and higher tax rates during the "boom times" of the 50's and 60's, mostly Dem controlled and high tax rate with low deficits.

Your graph also shows generally larger deficits when the the tax rate is below 40%.

This is a good graph for showing that tax cuts don't reduce the budget or significantly stimulate the economy.

"...whats more, Bush was actually reducing the defict until the DEMS took over in 2006/7." This line is just classic. Bush inherited a SURPLUS! and squandered it. The Bush budgets didn't include the two wars that were started on his watch either!

Mike Lachance's picture

Bush didnt inhereit a surplus

Bush didnt inhereit a surplus Zack. talk about "lines"

... the dems raided the Soc. Security fund to play the shell game. the money was still not there after the game ended. There was no surplus when GW took over.

I dont believe YOU are actually looking at the graph, because what it shows is quite clear. deficits go up and down regardless of the top tier rates. its the spending that changes the deficits and the Repubs have a far better record then the Dems for the past 40+ years.

Zack Lenhert's picture

And the Repubs weren't

And the Repubs weren't playing accounting games when two wars were not on the books?

" the dems raided the Soc. Security fund to play the shell game. the money was still not there after the game ended. There was no surplus when GW took over." Looking at your graph it was Repubs in control of congress for FIVE YEARS before Bush took office. So who raided Soc Sec?

"Repubs have a far better record then the Dems for the past 40+ years."... That is simply untrue. The deficits increase and decrease regardless of who controls congress. Again, you need to look at your own graph.

Your arguments are glaringly partisan.

Here's a simple math equation for you.. Revenue (tax policy) - spending = deficit/surplus.... so yes, tax policy does have a bearing on the deficit.

Mike Lachance's picture

"Who raided Social

"Who raided Social Security?"
Clinton. His idea. His push.
http://www.freedomworks.org/publications/clinton%E2%80%99s-3-trillion-ra...

This report from 1999 (prior to Clinton's budget taking effect) outlines exactly what the Pres. was doing with his numbers:
http://rpc.senate.gov/releases/1999/bd030499.htm

As far as deficits...
http://www.heritage.org/static/reportimages/6D3B934F4DD3A1C4A80479981CD0...

"The best way to reduce the long-term debt burden is to combine spending restraint with a pro-growth tax policy that keeps America's debt levels affordable. Unlike the tax increase option, spending restraint promotes economic growth, retains a low tax burden, and therefore reduces the debt burden. With corporate welfare, pork-barrel projects, obsolete programs, and waste totaling hundreds of billions of dollars annually, lawmakers have little excuse for not streamlining spending."
http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2008/09/ten-myths-about-budget-...

As far as your simple math... of course that fine on paper... but when spending is 10 times revenue (tax policy), a 1-ford increase in revenue (tax increase) will not put a dent in the deficit if spending stays the same or increases (the Dem playbook M.O.) Additionally, raising taxes can and often does have negative implications to consumer spending which in-turn lowers revenue. The problem with raising taxes, is that the politicians who support it are the same ones who look at the increased revenue (short term) as a means to increase spending. (The Dem idea of "cutting spending" is to not increase spending next year)

Mike Lachance's picture

(woops! "1-ford"... now THATS

(woops! "1-ford"... now THATS funny... should read "1-fold")

Mike Lachance's picture

the data

http://home.adelphi.edu/sbloch/deficits.html

This is the data / graphs referenced above.

Mike Lachance's picture

Zack, I'll try to go slow....

Zack, I'll try to go slow.... your conclusion only works in a worls filled with responsible politicians. Unfortunately, we are not in such a world. Newsflash: tax policy does NOT dictate how much money the govt can budget. We could eliminate taxes for a year and the Govt most likely would attempt (and probably succeed if Dems were at the wheel) to spend more than they did the previous year.

In our reality-stricken world, the only way to reduce deficits is to reduce spending and encourage economic activity (lowering taxes). Increasing taxes has always had the net effect of slowing economic activity and discouraging consumer spending, which reduces tax revenues. Regardless, tax revenues no longer appear to dictate the budgeting and spending of the Fed Govt. To Dems it doesnt matter what the deficit is, they always want to spend more.

Go ahead and bash Bush all you want, I have no problem with that, but under Obama the deficit has balooned catastrophically, which makes GW's deficits look like a grain of sand.

The economic policies you are decrying are not those of Bush and the "neocons", but of pelosi, reid, frank, and obama, the dems who controlled the purse strings from 2006 through 2010 (thats 4 years prior to Obama if the math is too complex)

the evil republicans were warning the saintly dems way back in 2001, (and 2002, 2004, 2006, 2007) that the housing bubble was not sustinable ad fannie/freddie was a train wreck in the making. (Barney Frank, of course, insisted all was well)

Mike Lachance's picture

Zack, I'll try to go slow....

Zack, I'll try to go slow.... your conclusion only works in a worls filled with responsible politicians. Unfortunately, we are not in such a world. Newsflash: tax policy does NOT dictate how much money the govt can budget. We could eliminate taxes for a year and the Govt most likely would attempt (and probably succeed if Dems were at the wheel) to spend more than they did the previous year.

In our reality-stricken world, the only way to reduce deficits is to reduce spending and encourage economic activity (lowering taxes). Increasing taxes has always had the net effect of slowing economic activity and discouraging consumer spending, which reduces tax revenues. Regardless, tax revenues no longer appear to dictate the budgeting and spending of the Fed Govt. To Dems it doesnt matter what the deficit is, they always want to spend more.

Go ahead and bash Bush all you want, I have no problem with that, but under Obama the deficit has balooned catastrophically, which makes GW's deficits look like a grain of sand.

The economic policies you are decrying are not those of Bush and the "neocons", but of pelosi, reid, frank, and obama, the dems who controlled the purse strings from 2006 through 2010 (thats 4 years prior to Obama if the math is too complex)

the evil republicans were warning the saintly dems way back in 2001, (and 2002, 2004, 2006, 2007) that the housing bubble was not sustinable ad fannie/freddie was a train wreck in the making. (Barney Frank, of course, insisted all was well)

Jason Theriault's picture

Or

(a) Cut taxes for businesses, they report higher profits
(b) Cut taxes for citizens, which they throw into savings.
(c) Status quo.

The problem with tax cuts is that those who benefit most will see it as an increase to disposable income. Some of it may make it into the goods and services marketplace, some will not.

However, those who are benefiting from welfare and "government handouts" will most likely dump all of it into the products and services.

Bush had it right when he called it "Voodoo Economics"

Mike Lachance's picture

Bush had it wrong.

Bush had it wrong.

Steve  Dosh's picture

LePage calls for action, support in cutting taxes

Thanks Andrea 12.04.15 16:20 hst • 
. . $1,000 more per capita than any other state in this blessed union ? Count your blessings Mainers . You health system is better than 42.3 States and almost on par with la Canada's , your State coffers are full right now and next year you m a y actually have to spend some US$$ plowing the roads , repairing rusty bridges B4 they fall down , $$ for the fire departments , garbage collectors, E M S , and the police and such
We're unfriending LePage on our facebook ® . Always make us think of glue n e ways :) Alo'ha from Pahoa , /s Steve and ohana http://hawaiiannames.hisurf.com/

Mike Lachance's picture

Oh?

Canada's health system is better than the US'?
This statement is 100% unabashed opinion, unsubstantiated by reality.

Without the US healthcare "system" driving the improvements and quality of healthcare worldwide, Canada would be right up there with... ohh.... Angola perhaps.
When we abandon the US system the rest of the worl will suffer as no other country will take over the reigns via the $$ required for R&D. That lake will dry up.

Jason Theriault's picture

I love it

I love how you go from calling out someone's lack of facts, and then in the very next sentence, make claims with out a factual basis.

First of all, it all depends in how you define what is the best. Canada has a higher life expectancy and lower infant mortality rate than we do. Yet we spend 2-3X as much as they do.

Now, if our system is driving advances, we need to cut that out. Let them pay for their own stuff. I don't care if R&D dries up. What good is fancy new treatments do me if I can't afford them? I would rather them R&D a way not to charge me $400 for aspirin

Mike Lachance's picture

You've stated one fact in

You've stated one fact in amongst all your drivel:
"it all depends in how you define what is the best" I'd say we agree on that one point. But our definitions would be very different.

You seem to want the "others" to pay... "Let them pay for their own stuff. "
hmmm.... isnt that familiar....?

Trouble is... no one else can afford the costs involved on a market scale outside the US.
Canada? yeah, sure. thats it.

Jason Theriault's picture

Nope

I don't want others to pay. I just don't want pay 3 times as much as Canada.

Mike Lachance's picture

Thats a fair sentiment. But

Thats a fair sentiment. But if every Canadian got a free moped from the Canadian Govt, paid for by their fantastically high taxes, would you not want to pay more than they pay for their mopeds for your nice privately purchased sedan or SUV, or even your nice PRIUS?

Our system is not publicly funded they way the Canadian system is. Their services are horrendous and they pay a premium in taxes. I'll take my private insurance any day over the public health systems of any other nation.

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