MAINE, USA — Maine Republicans have found an opening to attack Gov. Janet Mills on taxes.
They're focused on a rule requiring Maine businesses to pay state income tax on federal Paycheck Protection Program loans that are not taxed by the federal government.
The Mills administration says the state could face a $125 million shortfall if it goes along with changes to the federal tax code.
In the wake of widespread criticism, Gov. Mills asked departments to look for federal funds to offset the loss instead.
Phil Harriman said the tax question plays into the Republican political narrative for the next election.
"What the governor is saying in this budget is that this $100 million of spending, 'I want to be paid for by just those very few small business people who needed the loans in the first place to keep their employees on the payroll.'"
But Betsy Sweet said that's not a fair argument by the GOP.
"Everyone who got a PPP loan," Sweet said, "It said directly in the information that you got, this will be taxed on the state level."
And Sweet said Gov. Mills deserves credit for creating a budget with no revenue increases.
The second impeachment trial of Donald Trump is fast approaching. Sen. Susan Collins said it's clear that there will not be enough Republican support to convict the former president of inciting an insurrection.
So she and Virginia Democrat Tim Kaine have been floating the idea of censuring Trump instead.
Our analysts feel one way or another, and it's important to lay out the facts of what happened that contributed to the siege at the U.S. Capitol on January 6.
Sweet wants to know to what extent Trump and Congress were "involved in this insurrection that completely was about taking down our democracy."
And Harriman agrees that "Donald Trump owes an explanation in detail to the American public about what happened."
First District Rep. Chellie Pingree is the new chair of a House appropriations subcommittee that holds the purse strings for a wide range of federal environmental, land use, arts, and tribal affairs agencies and programs.
Sweet and Harriman believe this is a good opportunity for Maine.
"All the areas this subcommittee overseas are very important parts of Maine's culture and our economy. We're lucky that we have that opportunity to be heard on these issues," Harriman said.
"This is huge for Maine and for Chellie," Sweet said. "The subcommittees really run the agenda of the appropriations committee."
Sweet feels this will help advance the work that Pingree has on farming, agriculture, and climate change.
President Joe Biden has signed a record number of executive orders in his first days in office.
"You've seen in about a two-week span a tremendous shift in public policy with a stroke of a pen," Harriman said.
He doesn't think it's a good way to do business.
But Sweet said it's a reflection of the frustration about the way business is done in Washington.
"I think he's only addressed those issues that are really critical, climate change, kids in cages, health care, the vaccine, things that are really cutting edge that he really can't wait" for Congress to act.
Sweet also wants Congress to "work like it should," and hopes this will bring the Republican party and Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell back to the negotiating table.
Political Brew airs Sundays on The Morning Report.