BANGOR (AP) – Longtime tax activist Mary Adams has formed a political action committee in hopes of collecting enough signatures to place a government spending-cap referendum on the ballot next year.

Adams, a conservative from Garland who successfully spearheaded the repeal of the state property tax almost three decades ago, this week formed a PAC to place what is being called a Taxpayer Bill of Rights on the November 2005 ballot.

Adams’ proposal would limit the growth of government spending at the state, county, municipal and school district levels to the annual rate of inflation and population growth.

The measure, modeled after a Colorado constitutional amendment adopted by voters there in 1992, would require voter approval for any tax or fee increases. Under the plan, 20 percent of any excess revenues would be placed in a rainy day fund and 80 percent would be refunded to taxpayers.

“The grown-ups have to take over in Augusta,” Adams said.

The formation of Adams’ PAC comes as Maine voters prepare to consider the Palesky tax cap, which would limit property taxes to 1 percent of a home’s assessed value. Voters will decide the issue on Nov. 2.

The Palesky initiative alone would devastate local coffers by cutting more than $600 million out of municipal budgets, according to some estimates.

Add the Adams spending cap to the mix, and “like a rolling pin, it would flatten the state,” said Lee Umphrey, spokesman for Gov. John Baldacci.

“It would put Maine in a precarious position,” Umphrey said. “Maine’s future should not be determined by a series of referendums, but by thoughtful and responsible work at the State House.”

Unlike Colorado, Adams’ spending cap would not amend Maine’s constitution, which cannot be changed by a citizen initiative.

Adams said she plans to gather most of the needed signatures on Election Day, but said she would prefer that the Legislature adopt her bill as a constitutional amendment to strongly secure its place in the legislative process.

Adams declined to say if she would support the Palesky tax cap in November. But Carol Palesky, the tax cap’s informal namesake, said she would back Adams’ proposed spending limit.

“They would work very well together,” Palesky said.



On the Net:

Taxpayer Bill of Rights: www.taxpayerbillofrights.com.

AP-ES-09-29-04 0216EDT



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