AUGUSTA (AP) – Supporters of an effort to repeal new taxes on beer, wine, soda and other beverages raised 15 times as much money as repeal opponents in the latest financial reporting period.

The Fed Up With Taxes coalition raised nearly $375,000 for its repeal campaign between May 28 and July 15, according to reports filed with the Maine ethics commission. A tax repeal opposition group, Health Coverage for Maine, raised just over $25,000 for the same period.

Fed Up With Taxes last week turned in more than 90,000 signatures to the secretary of state’s office in its effort to force a statewide vote to repeal the new taxes, which were approved by legislators in April to help bolster funding for Maine’s state-run Dirigo Health program.

If the secretary of state certifies more than 55,087 signatures, voters will decide if the taxes stay or go.

The biggest contributor to Fed Up With Taxes in the latest reporting period was the American Beverage Association, a Washington, D.C., trade group that gave $87,500. The Maine Beer and Wine Wholesalers gave $83,975, Pepsi Bottling Group Inc. of Somers, N.Y., gave $40,800 and the Maine Beverage Association gave $40,000.

For the year, Fed Up With Taxes has now raised about $556,000, the group reported, while spending $480,000.

Health Coverage for Maine reported raising $25,105 in the latest reporting period, $25,000 of which came from the Service Employees International Union in Washington, D.C.

For the year, the organization has raised just over $135,000 while spending about $86,000.

Information from: Kennebec Journal,

AP-ES-07-24-08 1101EDT

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