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Bob Stone

Beware of Question 1: It is Not a Tax Reform Issue
By Bob Stone
Oct 15, 2003 - 5:33:00 PM

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As some of you know, this writer has been at "ground zero" of the fight being waged by powerful forces in this state to take even more taxes from the citizens of the State of Maine. That "war" has been waged under the guise of Question 1 on the November 4th ballot. Make no mistake about it -- powerful forces are hard at work in an attempt to mislead we voters into making poor choices at the ballot box.

When we vote on November 4th (or before, if by absentee ballot), we vote first on Question 1. Question 1 has been referred to as a "Tax Reform" issue but it is really all about an attempted money grab by the association representing the governments of Maine's cities and towns. In previous columns, we have looked very closely at Question 1A and Question 1B. I am voting for question 1C, which rejects both 1A and 1B and calls for a concerted effort to bring real tax relief to Maine.

If 1A passes, there will be an immediate cost to Maine taxpayers of $264 million dollars, a 10% increase in the cost of Maine state government. This cost will have to be paid for by the taxpayers. To cover this huge new expense, we can expect either a 23% increase in our income tax or a 7% sales tax, or a combination of both.

If 1B passes, the damage will be phased in over 5 years. A slow death knell to Maine's economy rather than a quick execution. There is no guarantee under either 1A or 1B that there will be any property tax reductions. Anything you might have heard to the contrary on the television about a 15% reduction in property taxes is just a lie.

So, this so-called "Tax Reform" question is really all about tax increases in disguise. Maine already has the highest tax burden in the country. Like pigs at the trough, there will never be enough taxes in the Maine slop bucket of taxes to satisfy government's special interests. No wonder the nickname for the Maine Municipal Association is "More Money Always".

We have heard the MMA argument before. When the income tax and sales tax were introduced, we were told that high property taxes would be a thing of the past. Due to the inability to control spending at all levels of Maine government, we now have high sales, income and property taxes.

We will never get to tax relief in Maine unless spending is reigned in. It is spending that drives the taxes. Tax shifting and gimmicks like the Homestead Tax exemption are not going to get Maine out from under our oppressive tax burden.

A vote for 1C is the only vote for action. A vote for the other questions is a vote for the status quo. The status quo in Maine is ever increasing spending and taxation. 1A and 1B fall far short of tax relief.

As of September 30th, the 1A and 1B special interests raised well over a million dollars in an attempt to fool you into thinking that they are offering "tax relief". Why would anyone want to spend over a million bucks to bring you tax relief? They have spent that huge amount of money because they expect to earn a handsome, multi-million dollar return on their investment.

The National Education Association has given the Maine Education Association, the teachers union, well over $300,000 to plow into More Money Always' campaign. The More Money Always group has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, much of it coming from our property tax dollars paid to the MMA as "dues", to run a barrage of TV commercials that even the MMA admits are not completely factual.

Guess where that cash, the "return", is going to come from. If you guessed the checkbooks of the besieged Maine taxpayers, you'd be correct.

Don't be fooled by the lies and spin. Vote 1C and send Maine's big spenders the message that we are "as mad as hell and aren't going to take it any more."

But it is your choice in the end. You can vote for 1A or 1B and continued high taxes, or you can vote to end this gravy train with a vote for 1C. The choice is quite simple.

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