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The Governor believes that now is the time to move Maine from poverty to prosperity. Rather than keep trying the same thing that we’ve tried for decades and expecting different results, it is well past time to stop chasing capital out of the State of Maine and to stop penalizing hard work and investment in our State.

While some critics are using scare tactics to talk about funding gaps, imaginary cuts to education, necessity of increasing property taxes – that’s all they are, scare tactics. The people of Maine know better and can judge for themselves when this is put to referendum. Education funding in Maine has far outpaced inflation while our student population has declined.  The Governor and this Administration are committed to raising the bar on the education that local school districts provide to the children in Maine. We stand firmly by our commitment to seniors and to the most vulnerable populations in Maine. The Governor and this Administration reject the idea that the Government knows better than Maine families how to spend your hard earned money. The notion that an income tax cut is a “giveaway to the wealthy,” as some have called it, is offensive. No one is giving away money here. This proposal would let the hard working people of Maine keep the money that they earn. Elimination of the state income tax would provide the largest wage increase in the history of Maine. In all, $1.2 billion would be returned to hardworking Maine families. We need to focus on growing our private sector economy, not growing government spending.

Although the Governor is calling for BOLD action, the Governor is asking you to take responsible action. If the Legislature passes LD 1367 and voters approve the amendment to the Maine Constitution, Governor LePage is convinced that, by working together, the state can develop a tax system free of the individual income tax that will achieve the same objectives he has fought for in each budget proposal, including fairness.  In the past, the Governor has proposed mechanisms such as the Property Tax Fairness Credit and the Sales Tax Fairness Credit, and there is no reason similar mechanisms would not be possible in a Maine without an income tax.

The Governor is not linking the elimination of the income tax to eliminating any specific programs or other revenue-generating solitons. There are many other revenue streams the State could consider to fund essential programs and activities – which, by the way, the government should have to continuously justify to the people of Maine who fund the government’s activities. We believe that this committee, in the future, will have the important task of being creative, innovating, and finding responsible ways to fund the government. Rather than spend time debating which exemptions and credits to offer, rather than picking winners and losers, rather than have the government decide what qualifies as something requiring an income tax exemption, let’s exempt all people in Maine from the income tax and let the people who earn the money decide where to spend it.  To those who clamor that eliminating the income tax will necessarily increase property taxes – that’s not what we’ve proposed. The income tax is a state-level tax proposal and it would have no impact on local property taxes.  That continues to be a local decision.

The Governor is asking the legislature to act. He rejects the scare tactics that we’ve already started to see from special interest groups, and would ask that the legislature engage in this debate thoughtfully and responsibly, in the best interest of the one special interest group we all serve – the people of Maine. This brings me to my final message.