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Bob Stone

Let's Look at Question 1A
By Bob Stone
Oct 11, 2003 - 7:35:00 PM

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Conventional wisdom says that newspaper readers often read only 20 percent of a column. If you take anything away from my column this week, please take the advice in the first sentence. If you vote 1C, you will avoid voting yourself massive tax hikes.

The first question on this year’s ballot concerns so-called “Tax Reform”. This question is not as “sexy” as the Casino vote but it has the definite potential to be much more damaging to the future economic vitality of Maine. I’ll explain some of the sordid background of the so-called “Tax Reform” questions if you decide to stick around and finish the column.

Back in the mid 1980’s, when state spending was just a fraction of what it is today and the 80’s boom in Maine real estate was at its peak, the Maine Legislature passed a law that said the “intent”, or goal, of the legislature was to pay for 55% of Maine K-12 education. Money was rolling into the state coffers and the legislature was feeling awfully “flush” back then.

Well, the legislature never met the goal of 55%. It now covers about 42% of the K-12 bill. It seems the liberal Democrats in charge up there found all kinds of new programs to spend the money and have blown off the 55% goal.

The Maine Municipal Association, essentially a trade association representing the employees of Maine’s cities and towns, decided that it was tired of waiting for the legislature to meet its goal of 55% and decided to go out to force a citizen initiated referendum. The referendum question, if passed by the voters this November 4th, will force the legislature to meet its goal of 55% funding.

The MMA contributed the first $20,000 to its new Political Action Committee (PAC) called “Citizens to Reduce Local Property Taxes Statewide.” As you will read a bit later, the name of the PAC has little to do with the mission of the PAC. It could very well have been named “Citizens for Two Lobsters a Week in Every Pot, a Cure for the Common Cold and a 95 Percent Reduction in State Taxes”.

The MMA sponsored question, 1A, is sinister. The MMA is calling it “the people’s” initiative. They can call it anything they want, but it was conceived by the MMA. It demands that the state pay an additional $264 million to the towns and cities next fiscal year over and above the $730 million the state paid the towns and cities this year.

The MMA is saying, essentially, “pay us now and we don’t give a damn where you get the money.” Since money doesn’t grow on trees, the additional $264 million will have to come from the taxpayers. This will raise the cost of running state government by a whopping 10%!

Don’t expect the liberal legislature to cut $264 million from other state programs in order to pay for the new MMA demands. They have increased spending over 30 percent in the last three years. Their spending habit is totally out of control and they’ll just find more ways to tax us, the highest taxed citizens in the nation.

Other than the $2.7 billion (yes, that’s billion with a “b”!) the MMA would like to take out of our pockets, the problem with Question 1A is the way the MMA has decided to deceive the voters into voting in favor of this massive tax hike.

Please understand that Question 1A contains absolutely no guarantee, mandate or requirement that our property taxes will be reduced. This key fact has been admitted to by the MMA.

Despite the fact that there is nothing that even mentions lower property taxes in the MMA bill, the MMA went out and collected 100,000 signatures last Election Day by baiting the signers with the promise of “lower property taxes.” Of course they tricked people into signing the petitions. How deceitful can they be?

On top of that travesty, the current TV ad pushing 1A tells the viewer that 1A means $264 million in “property tax relief” and a “15% reduction in property taxes state wide.” Pure balderdash! Once again, there is no mention of property tax reductions in 1A.

The sad fact of the matter is that the property tax payers of the state of Maine fund the MMA with about $1.5 million in “dues” every year. Since the MMA is the main force behind the TV advertising, our own tax dollars are being used to deceive us!

Not to be outdone by the MMA, the Maine Education Association (read “teachers union”) has also entered the fray and is participating in this scam of a campaign. They have poured several hundred thousand dollars into the MMA run spin machine. Thanks to the generous contribution of the teachers union, Maine’s voters are being lied to with a barrage of 1A commercials.

Someone in the MMA and the teachers union sees a pot of gold at the end of the 1A “rainbow”. As the old saying goes, “If it smells in the beginning, it’s gonna stink in the end!”

We all know and admire Maine’s police, fire, public works and teachers for the work that they do in public service. How sad it is to see them represented by an association that will misrepresent the facts to the voters in a cold, calculated and contrived way. Our municipal employees are certainly better than that.

Readers, this is a bad, bad bill. A vote for Question 1A will mean chaos, higher taxes and a slide downhill for the economy of Maine.

A vote for 1C stops this sham, dead in its tracks. Don’t be fooled. 1A is a tax increase in disguise. Don’t sucker for it.

Vote 1C.


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