PORTLAND (AP) – Tax activist Carol Palesky isn’t giving up, even after voters overwhelmingly rejected her tax cap referendum on Election Day.

Palesky said Thursday that her group, the Maine Taxpayers Action Network, plans to submit a new tax-cap petition to the secretary of state’s office, possibly this month.

Palesky, who spearheaded the drive to get the property tax- cap proposal on the Nov. 2 ballot, said she and other MTAN board members got hundreds of phone calls and e-mails after the election urging them to draft another tax cap proposal. Mainers rejected the referendum by a margin of nearly 2-to-1.

The new plan will be more moderate than the previous proposal, Palesky said, but the board has yet to decide the exact wording.

Tax-cap opponents used scare tactics and half truths to defeat the referendum by saying it would result in wholesale layoffs and cuts in municipal services, Palesky said.

“We want to make it more moderate so police, teachers and firefighters won’t think they’re going to lose their jobs, even though that never happened in other states with tax caps,” Palesky said.

Dennis Bailey, who helped organize opposition to the tax-cap referendum, said it’s time for Palesky to give it up.

“She worked 10 years to get this before the voters, and people voted,” Bailey said. “It’s clear they don’t want this. The vote was overwhelming.”

Signature-gathering drives are already under way for two other tax-relief proposals.

The Maine Chamber of Commerce is collecting signatures for a tax reform package that includes a mix of spending and tax caps. Another plan proposed by tax activist Mary Adams and the Maine Heritage Policy Center is modeled on Colorado law and would create a government spending cap.

If MTAN petition’s wording is approved, the group will have until Jan. 20 to collect 50,519 signatures to get it on the ballot for next November’s election.

Palesky said she would use MTAN’s network of 400 volunteers to gather signatures at malls, shopping centers, supermarket parking lots and elsewhere.

Gov. John Baldacci and legislators have said that tax reform will be their first order of business for the upcoming legislative session. But Palesky said she doesn’t believe it.

“Guess what? Less than a year ago, he said the same thing,” she said.

AP-ES-11-04-04 1459EST



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