Weekly Radio Address: Valentino says, “Democrats will seek a better budget deal for all Mainers”
Every two years the Maine Legislature passes a new, balanced, state budget.The budget is a document that reflects our values and our priorities. It charts a course for our future–for our prosperity, and for our success.
Good Morning. This is State Senator Linda Valentino of Saco.
This week, I, along with my colleagues on the Appropriations Committee, listened to three days of public testimony, from more than a hundred people. They came to Augusta, driving through snow storms and slick roads, to express their concerns with Governor LePage’s $6.5 billion budget.
The message we heard was clear: the governor’s tax reform budget largely benefits the wealthy and big corporations, while shifting the tax burden to local property taxes.
To be clear, there are ideas put forth by Governor LePage that I agree with. For the ten years I have served in the Legislature, the Democrats have tried to pass meaningful, fair, tax reform. I am pleased that tax reform and lower income taxes are back on the table, but, I have grave concerns that in the governor’s proposal, the most significant tax breaks go to those individuals making more than $175,000–and to big corporations.
I am concerned that this loss of $300 million in revenue to the state’s coffers will result in significant cuts to investments like education and job training–the very programs that help Maine families, workers, and small businesses.
I am concerned that by eliminating revenue sharing, funding for local services like public safety and public works will be gutted–or that property taxes will rise.
And, mostly, I am concerned that this proposal offers nothing to encourage young people to stay in Maine–or return to Maine. As the state with the oldest population–as the state that has more people retiring than entering the workforce, we need to retain our young people and recruit new people to our state. And the governor’s budget proposal fails to do this.
But you don’t have to take my word for it. Here’s what some of the people who came to testify had to say about Governor LePage’s tax plan.
Maine business leader Adam Lee of Lee Auto Malls said:
“The idea of lowering the tax rate for the wealthiest members of society is misguided… I get a tax cut and everyone else in town has to chip in to pay for it through higher property taxes. It isn’t fair.”
Skip Worcester, a clam digger from Hermon said: “Corporations are making record profits but they are not paying their fair share in taxes – their taxes have been less and less and their profits have been higher and higher…it’s the reverse for us middle and lower classes. Our wages have stayed practically the same while the cost of living, heating and eating have gone up.”
Additionally, we heard from more than 50 town officials from across our state that eliminating revenue sharing would have a dire impact on their communities. Towns rely on these dollars to fund services in order to keep property taxes stable.
Between the governor’s cuts to revenue sharing and his proposal to eliminate the Homestead Exemption for folks under the age of 65, he’s missing the mark. We should be looking for ways to reduce property taxes, not shift additional taxes on to homeowners.
In the coming weeks and months, the state’s budget writing committee will be re-working and negotiating aspects of this budget. I can tell you that I along with my Democratic colleagues will seek a better budget deal for all Mainers. We will work to make it fair for small businesses.
And, we will not lose sight of our future–our investments in education and our workforce–in giving young Mainers a reason to stay here and others a reason to make Maine their home.
Thank you for listening. This is State Senator Linda Valentino of Saco. Stay warm–and have a terrific weekend!