The Maine State Chamber of Commerce has changed its position on the tax reform referendum facing voters on June 8, recently voting “overwhelmingly” to support the new law and oppose its repeal in the upcoming referendum, according to a press release.
The release was issued by the political action committee supporting the No on 1 position, which would maintain the recently passed law to lower the income tax of most from 8.5 percent to 6.5 percent. The reduction is paid for by expanding the state’s 5 percent sales tax to a broader array of items than are currently taxed and increasing the meals and lodging tax from 7 percent to 8.5 percent.
During the legislative debate, the Maine State Chamber did not support the reform package, while local chambers including the Androscoggin County Chamber of Commerce, the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Portland Region Chamber of Commerce, did.
Dana Connors, president of the Maine State Chamber, said he wants to be clear that the state chamber has always been supportive of efforts to lower Maine’s income tax rate, even during the legislative process. He said the chamber board decided not to support the tax reform package at that time to strengthen its lobbying position on the details of the measure.
“It was clearly my board’s intention that on an up or down vote they would be supportive, but we wanted to use the occasion to try to improve it and try to use the legislative process as we did,” Connors said in an interview on Wednesday. “I think that those inside the circle understood what the position was, but I put the board in that position of trying to say, let’s use this occasion to improve the bill.”
Mainers will have the opportunity to weigh in on the issue on June 8.
This post has been updated since it was originally published.