Maine government has chronically proven that it is unable to apply fiscal discipline to the budget process. Legal limits must be placed on policymakers.

We live in one of the finest places in the nation – our great state of Maine. Our magnificent and immense natural resources, our safe and varied communities, combined with the determination and grit of Maine people, makes the state a place about which books are written and movies are made.

Yet Maine is on the verge of significant population and economic decline. If we do not direct our elected (and non-elected) officials to make significant, structural changes in our long-held policies on taxes, economic development, and regulations that we place on both our people and businesses, Maine will see more closings, more layoffs, and more businesses deciding to locate their operations somewhere outside our borders. That potential end result will have a devastating effect on each of us in a very real way.

Conservatives have long held that there are certain key elements to a thriving and robust economy: lowering the tax burden, encouraging responsible free market competition among the business community and limiting the amount of unfunded and overly burdensome regulations placed upon both individuals and corporations.

As it relates to the states, these beliefs are based upon factual data that show the competitive advantage in those states that have embraced this fundamental understanding. States such as Colorado, Florida, and our neighbor New Hampshire, have seen a significant growth in population, business development and, as a result, tax revenue.

The Maine Heritage Policy Center has emerged as a leading Maine voice for these honorable views of the conservative philosophy – and as such is once again reminding Mainers of their strong, independent and participatory Maine heritage.

MHPC is a new nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational organization whose mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise; limited, constitutional government; individual freedom; and traditional American values – all for purpose of providing public policy solutions that benefit the people of Maine.

In the critical area of the economy, we all heard the rhetoric during the recent gubernatorial contest regarding Maine’s high tax rate, and that the business community is finding it hard to live and work here. While the campaign may be over, that reality still exists.

In a 2002 study published by the Tax Institute, Maine was the last – the lowest, the bottom – of the list in terms of tax-friendly states. Maine’s individual tax burden (combining a Maine resident’s state, local, property, sales and excise taxes), as a percentage of personal income, was 13.6 percent – the highest in the union!

These are facts that we can no longer ignore. These types of well-publicized reports cannot and do not bode well for Maine’s prospect at attracting new businesses to the state. Remember that along with those businesses come dozens or hundreds or thousands of new people to Maine who would buy houses, cars, food and, yes, pay taxes.

Mainers must be adamant in their strong opposition to any tax increases; in fact, we must push for significant, structural reform that decreases the overall tax burden on Maine’s people and businesses. Such reform must include property tax caps, such as are already in place and working well in Bath. Additionally, tax and expenditure limitations should be passed, as they have been by a majority of the states. TELs legally limit a state’s ability to increase either taxes and/or expenditures. Maine’s state government has chronically proven that it is unable to apply fiscal discipline to the budget process, as each of us must do with our own families or businesses. Therefore, legal limits must be placed on policymakers.

The Maine Heritage Policy Center provides objective, fair and grounded analyses of public policy issues facing the state. The need for an organization of MHPC’s nature is based on the principles of balance.

Mainers need to hear all ideas that could influence and shape the course of our state. MHPC provides research and analysis with the utmost integrity, drawing on both local and national experts to offer solutions and to promote effective and responsible public policy models that already occur within Maine.

Our Maine heritage is based on grit, determination and ingenuity. Those characteristics together provide the ideal foundation for promoting positive change that will ensure a more secure future for our state.

Bill Becker of Portland is the Executive Director of The Maine Heritage Policy Center.

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