AUGUSTA, Maine — Mainers get an extra day to file their income taxes, thanks to the Patriot's Day holiday, but about 50 Maine Republicans and members of conservative groups weren’t taking the day off.
The GOP used the national Tax Day to try to send a message to state government about spending and taxes.
"The main reason we are here is the people inside that building making your laws and judging what your taxes should be do not believe it's your money," Matt Gagnon of the Maine Heritage Policy Center told a crowd of about 50 people outside of the State House. "They think the taxes belong to them."
The rally featured four former Republican elected leaders, as well as the former press secretary for Gov. LePage, who all spoke about the burden of high taxes in Maine and warned that Gov. Janet Mills' $8 billion state budget will lead to future tax hikes. The Republican leaders said the problem is too much spending and that it has to be cut back.
Julie Rabinowitz of Maine People Before Politics, a group that promotes the policies of the former governor, called for the state to return the state surplus to taxpayers in the form of rebates.
"Unfortunately, too many people in Augusta, in these buildings right here, see this record-breaking revenue as an opportunity to expand government -- not as an opportunity to hold the line, or even reform our system," Rabinowitz said.
Democratic Senate President Troy Jackson said the biggest tax problem is property taxes and blamed Republicans and former Gov. LePage for cutting revenue sharing and other policies that forced property taxes in many communities to go up.
"And the people who spoke out there (at the rally) are the ones who increased the burden on taxpayers, property taxpayers, of this state, giving big income tax cuts to the wealthiest people," Jackson said. "They took it on the backs of property taxpayers, cutting revenue sharing and education funding."
The Senate President also predicted that Gov. Mills' proposed $8 billion budget may be too big to pass and that he’s ready to work with the GOP to find compromise.
"We want to work with our colleagues from across the aisle, come to a number agreement -- and we’re going to do that. It probably isn’t the $8 billion -- probably be something in the middle from what we are right now," Jackson told NEWS CENTER Maine.
The Legislature’s Appropriations Committee continues to work on details of the proposed budget. Republicans are a distinct minority in the Legislature, but GOP votes will still be needed to pass a new budget.