AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — Gov. Paul LePage said Tuesday that he plans to ask Maine people to pressure the Legislature to pass his income tax cut proposal.
The tax reduction is part of the $6.8 billion budget package the governor released last Friday.
The legislature has cut income taxes twice since Gov. LePage took office, but some lawmakers are predicting this cut could face the biggest Legislative fight yet. That’s because it would basically neutralize the 3 percent tax surcharge on higher incomes that was passed by voters in November and was supported by most Democrats.
Republicans and LePage, however, argue the new high tax on top incomes will be bad for Maine.
“I want to make Maine prosperous,” LePage said. “You can’t make Maine prosperous if you have the second highest tax structure in the country.”
Democrats say it’s about improving education and making sure the wealthy pay their fair share.
“It’s going to be difficult for us to adopt a third round of income tax cuts when we are concerned with balancing the budget, with making sure public schools have enough funding, making sure property taxes stay low,” said Assistant Senate Minority Leader Nate Libby, D-Lewiston.
His Republican counterpart, Sen. Andre Cushing, R-Newport, said the GOP senators want to find a way to reduce what they see as the harmful impact of the 3 percent surtax, although he did not specifically endorse LePage’s proposal.
“I think out caucus recognizes, as do colleagues on the other side of the aisle, that this referendum went a little too far without taking into account the impact it would have, adversely, on this state,” Sen. Cushing said.
LePage said he hopes Republicans will “show they’re Republicans” and support his tax cut.
Leaders of the Taxation Committee said they may begin public hearings on the plan by the end of January.