BRUNSWICK — Gov. Paul LePage deepened a line he drew in the sand earlier this year when he said Thursday that vetoes of legislators’ constituent service bills will continue until the Legislature acts on his tax reform package.

“Absolutely,” LePage said when asked by the Bangor Daily News whether he would use vetoes as leverage to motivate legislative action on the sweeping tax reform plan included in his $6.57 billion two-year budget. “(The bills) are giving sales tax exemptions to special interest groups before they look at the comprehensive budget. At the rate they’re going, we’ll have to have about a 10 percent tax rate.”

During Thursday morning’s Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber meeting in downtown Brunswick, LePage renewed his call for legislators to make a comprehensive overhaul of Maine’s tax system their priority.

“My point is very simply this: Take it all up together. Let’s have a week — ‘this week is going to be tax week’ — and we’re going to take up all the bills in the budget,” LePage said. “We’ll say we’re either going to get rid of the income tax or we’re not. If you’re going to nickel and dime me ’til June and then at 2 o’clock on the 29th of June you’re going to veto my budget or change it all, which you do every year … well, of course I’m going to veto them.”

On Tuesday, LePage vetoed the first three bills of his second term, including proposed tax exemptions for people with disabilities and library collaboratives.

Speaking Thursday at The Brunswick Inn and Tavern, LePage stayed largely on message, touting his state budget proposal, which includes a tax reform plan that would eliminate the estate tax and cut the state’s income tax rate by 2019. The plan also would allow towns and cities to levy property taxes on major nonprofit organizations in an effort to offset the elimination of Maine’s revenue sharing program through which state tax revenues flow to municipalities.

LePage said his proposal is designed to make Maine more attractive for retired and young people, as well as military veterans in their 30s or 40s who are ready to start a second career.

People who have accumulated a “nest egg” leave Maine for at least six months and a day to ensure they don’t pay Maine’s income tax, he said. If his tax reform passes, LePage said, “If you’ve worked all your life and you’ve accumulated a little bit — up to $2 million — that will go to your children.”

Repeating a line from previous public budget talks, LePage noted that former Maine Gov. Ken Curtis, a Democrat, instituted the state’s income tax but now lives in Florida.

LePage joked Thursday that the fate of his tax reform plan could determine whether he follows suit.

“I’m hedging my bet,” LePage said. “I have a house in Florida — I should say my wife has a house — and my wife has a house in Maine. I have no assets. I’m a smart man, right? I have a house in Florida, a house in Maine. If my bill passes, I’ll sell the house in Florida. (If) my budget doesn’t pass, I can sell the house in Maine.”

LePage is scheduled to speak more about the budget during a forum at 6 p.m. Thursday at Thornton Academy in Saco.

BRUNSWICK — Gov. Paul LePage deepened a line he drew in the sand earlier this year when he said Thursday that vetoes of legislators’ constituent service bills will continue until the Legislature acts on his tax reform package.

“Absolutely,” LePage said when asked by the Bangor Daily News whether he would use vetoes as leverage to motivate legislative action on the sweeping tax reform plan included in his $6.57 billion two-year budget. “(The bills) are giving sales tax exemptions to special interest groups before they look at the comprehensive budget. At the rate they’re going, we’ll have to have about a 10 percent tax rate.”

During Thursday morning’s Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber meeting in downtown Brunswick, LePage renewed his call for legislators to make a comprehensive overhaul of Maine’s tax system their priority.

“My point is very simply this: Take it all up together. Let’s have a week — ‘this week is going to be tax week’ — and we’re going to take up all the bills in the budget,” LePage said. “We’ll say we’re either going to get rid of the income tax or we’re not. If you’re going to nickel and dime me ’til June and then at 2 o’clock on the 29th of June you’re going to veto my budget or change it all, which you do every year … well, of course I’m going to veto them.”

On Tuesday, LePage vetoed the first three bills of his second term, including proposed tax exemptions for people with disabilities and library collaboratives.

Speaking Thursday at The Brunswick Inn and Tavern, LePage stayed largely on message, touting his state budget proposal, which includes a tax reform plan that would eliminate the estate tax and cut the state’s income tax rate by 2019. The plan also would allow towns and cities to levy property taxes on major nonprofit organizations in an effort to offset the elimination of Maine’s revenue sharing program through which state tax revenues flow to municipalities.

LePage said his proposal is designed to make Maine more attractive for retired and young people, as well as military veterans in their 30s or 40s who are ready to start a second career.

People who have accumulated a “nest egg” leave Maine for at least six months and a day to ensure they don’t pay Maine’s income tax, he said. If his tax reform passes, LePage said, “If you’ve worked all your life and you’ve accumulated a little bit — up to $2 million — that will go to your children.”

Repeating a line from previous public budget talks, LePage noted that former Maine Gov. Ken Curtis, a Democrat, instituted the state’s income tax but now lives in Florida.

LePage joked Thursday that the fate of his tax reform plan could determine whether he follows suit.

“I’m hedging my bet,” LePage said. “I have a house in Florida — I should say my wife has a house — and my wife has a house in Maine. I have no assets. I’m a smart man, right? I have a house in Florida, a house in Maine. If my bill passes, I’ll sell the house in Florida. (If) my budget doesn’t pass, I can sell the house in Maine.”

LePage is scheduled to speak more about the budget during a forum at 6 p.m. Thursday at Thornton Academy in Saco.


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