Maine Senate Republicans vote against a bill to bolster property tax relief program
AUGUSTA — In an initial vote on Tuesday, Maine Senate Republicans voted party-line to kill LD 959, a bill that would increase the maximum return under the Property Tax Fairness Credit by using a portion of the state’s annual surplus.
The bill, “An Act to Expand Property Tax Relief for Maine Residents,” is sponsored by Sen. Justin Chenette, D-Saco.
The Property Tax Fairness Credit gives low- and middle-income homeowners and renters a tax break to offset the cost of property taxes. Sen. Chenette’s bill would increase the maximum credit available under this program by requiring 1 percent of any potential state budget surplus to be sent to a new Property Tax Fairness Credit Fund.
“If we want to provide relief to property taxpayers, we as a Legislature need to put our money where our mouth is,” said Sen. Chenette on the Senate floor. “Under this bill, in a hypothetical situation where $30 million goes into the rainy day fund, $300,000 would go towards property tax relief. That is a more than fair outcome.”
Chenette said that Maine has been in a “surplus environment” recently, presenting an opportunity to provide meaningful relief to taxpayers. As a result of Maine’s economy inching out of the recession, greater revenues have come into the state coffers. Two months ago, lawmakers returned nearly $30 million to the state’s rainy day fund.
The bill now goes to the House for an initial vote.