LePage defends tax cuts for the wealthy at Newcastle town hall meeting

Posted Wednesday, May 25, 2011 in News

LePage defends tax cuts for the wealthy at Newcastle town hall meeting

by Gina Hamilton

NEWCASTLE -- On Friday, Gov. Paul LePage attended another in a series of 'Capital for a Day' events, this one in Lincoln County at the Lincoln Academy.

Outside, there were many protestors, carrying signs that pointed out that LePage was elected with less than 38 percent of the vote.  The so-called '61 percent' often appear at locations where LePage is scheduled to appear.

Indoors, the crowd was more balanced.  Even so, Republicans and Democrats alike had similar questions about tax cuts in an era of unbalanced budgets and significant social need.

LePage answered that he believed that the solution to many, if not most, problems the state faces could be assuaged if people had more money in their pockets and they were more inclined to start businesses or other enterprises with their savings.

However, many questioners pointed out that the tax cuts are not equable.  LePage did not respond directly to these concerns.

For instance, LePage repeatedly made the claim that the average income tax cut for the 600,000 plus taxpayers was about $450.  However, while that is technically true, it is certainly lopsided.

The bottom fifty percent of Maine taxpayers - those earning $35,000 and less - will share only nine percent of the tax breaks.  At the other end of the scale, the top 10 percent, those making $87,000 and more - will share 44 percent of the tax breaks.

To make things worse, while the wealthiest will also get estate tax breaks, those who get property tax breaks through the Circuit Breaker program, may find themselves losing this vital program.

A family earning $35,000 would get a tax break of $70 per year, while a family earning $350,000 would get a break of $2905.

In either case, remarked a woman from Bristol who said that 'she fell into the upper bracket', the tax break was not enough to 'make a significant difference'.  She said it wouldn't be enough to hire a part time employee or pay for medical insurance.  "What it will do," she said, "is cause local property taxes to go up to cover vital services that the state is legally mandated to pay for but won't because it will plead poverty."

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