Continue tax reform with an eye to long-term stability and decreasing the burden on those least able to afford it.
I support tax reform because Maine people and businesses will benefit. The current tax structure is too susceptible to loss of revenue in tough times and places a high burden on many Mainers.
I believe in finding all possible efficiencies in State government to lower the overall budget. The best way to make government more responsive to citizens and less business unfriendly is to improve the efficiency of the processes by which State departments produces products, and improve the effectiveness of those products in serving the needs of its customers. Many in State government mistakenly conclude that they don't produce products like companies do. But every permit, every license, every state income tax refund, every reimbursement check to a health provider for Maine Care, and every criminal arrest processed is a product produced by State government. And those are just a few examples. I've spoken to citizens across the spectrum, small business owners, and State employees that all agree there is a need for improving processes within State government.
I support fairness in distributing tax burden. I know that out of state residents who live here much of the year should pay their fair share of the burdens of infrastructure and services. They use the roads, but they don't pay for them because they don't pay income tax!
The next legislature will still need to deal with the challenge of funding essential services and meeting its obligations to its people, while balancing the budget. With reduced revenues even with significant cuts to many departments it is not possible to meet all the State's obligations to its citizens.
A prime example - General Purpose Aid for Education:
In 2004 the voters of Maine approved a citizen-initiated referendum calling on the state to fund "55 percent of the cost of public education."
In 2005, the Legislature enacted LD 1, which put a process in place whereby the state would "ramp up" to a 55 percent state share by steadily increasing state funding for schools, K-12, over four years.
Because of State revenue shortfalls the State has cut GPA in recent years instead of meeting the ramp up obligation. The result has been a shift of school funding costs onto local property tax. School committees have worked hard to cut budgets while minimizing educational impact to mitigate the State cuts. But at the end of the day it is still true that the State does not have the revenues to provide the education funding it's people have requested.
The things that can change that revenue problem are job growth, economic growth, and tax reform. Jobs and the economy are cyclical - there will always be times of growth and decline. Which is why tax reform is essential to bring stability.
In addition to jobs and the economy our challenges in coming legislative sessions are to improve the efficiency of State Departments, and to find a solution to the weaknesses in Maine's tax structure that has the support of the people of Maine.
And that is a challenge I am prepared to take on for the sake of Maine's people.