Maine Politics

From the Piscataqua to the St. John

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Property Tax Reform

Today, Governor Baldacci signed L.D. 1 into law. Speaker John Richardson explained today in the BDN what this will mean.

Blethen Maine News Service by Joe Phelan (PPH)These measures will bring the average taxpayer more than $200 in immediate property tax savings. The same estimates show a typical single elderly homeowner can expect to save $882, and a married couple with two children will save $314. In total, more than $86 million in additional tax relief will go directly to Maine citizens through the Circuit Breaker and Homestead programs. And because of the tax reform package, $250 million more in school funding will flow to local schools - the largest increase in the history of the state. That money, coupled with the spending caps we established in the plan, will result in lower local property taxes necessary to support schools.

To critics, he writes:
I have heard some critics in recent days say the plan passed by the Legislature doesn't provide enough tax relief, and doesn't provide it fast enough. I marvel at the criticism, really. What is the alternative they would prefer? That we should actually vote down the only tax relief package we have been able to find agreement on in six years of trying? Would no relief this year be better than some?

A front page article today in the Bangor Daily "Tax vote offers hope for session" gives some evidence that the partisan divide that categorized last session is a thing of the past. A staff editorial at the Sun Journal echoes this sentiment, declaring:
The outcome of the tax relief measure offers a good omen for the rest of the legislative session. The House and Senate, the Democrats and Republicans, were able to work together on a complicated and significant issue. The results don't please everyone, but the players have shown they can work with one another.

Let’s hope this is true. The discussion of Baldacci’s $5.7 billion state budget begins on Monday.

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