Tax reform is necessary to ensure future revenue.

States across the nation are facing a fiscal crisis. Maine is no exception.

Our fiscal problems are complex and there are no simple solutions to complex problems. And yet, Maine needs to implement basic tax reform in order to protect our way of life, help our fellow citizens and ensure that every Maine citizen has the opportunity to meet their basic needs.

A fair and just tax reform would create a stable revenue stream without placing undue burdens upon Maine’s most vulnerable populations. Social workers believe that the tax system as a whole needs to be based on the different abilities of individuals and businesses to contribute, a progressive system that taxes people and corporations based on their ability to pay.

Therefore, the National Association of Social Workers, Maine Chapter, is working in coalition with other progressive organizations to promote tax reform that will:

• Benefit the majority of Maine taxpayers;

• Focus relief on those who pay the highest proportion of their income in taxes overall;

• Provide adequate revenues that support Maine’s commitment to essential education, health, safety and quality of life services;

• Export as much burden as possible to non-residents; and

• Strike a fair balance between corporations and individual taxpayers.

Social workers recognize that state and local government play a central role in providing people with quality education and training, comprehensive health care including mental health care services, effective public safety, responsible human services, environmental protection, a sound infrastructure necessary for a thriving economy and recreational and cultural activities.

Social workers believe that the expenditures required to meet these objectives are essential ingredients in our state’s future and in the health and vitality of Maine’s people. These expenditures are an investment that we cannot afford to do without. The money we raise in taxes represents our investment in Maine’s future, and we need to ensure that there is sufficient revenue to provide these vital services.

Equally important is our quest to ensure that this revenue is raised in a fair and equitable manner. We must guard against placing undue burdens upon our most vulnerable populations: children, individuals and families in need of mental health or human services, people living in poverty and seniors.

The impact of this year’s fiscal crisis will last for years to come. We must make wise choices, remaining mindful of the impact of those decisions on Maine’s people, Maine’s communities and Maine’s future.

Kimberly Collins is executive director of the National Association of Social Workers, Maine Chapter, in Augusta.

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