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Governor’s Address: Democrats are holding tax conformity hostage to fund their elections with taxpayer dollars

It’s summer in Maine. We should be enjoying it. Instead, at the State House, “it’s deja vu all over again.” This Legislative session just won’t end.

Baseball legend Yogi Berra coined that phrase, and it’s never been more apt than during this revolving door of a session. Speaker Gideon cannot manage to wrap it up, and keeps adjourning for a few days with work left undone. Last week they came back, passed a couple bills, and dealt with vetoes. But they’ll have to return for more vetoes and remaining bills.

This is July; the session was supposed to end in April. This tells us that the Democrats were never serious about getting the necessary work done. They are only concerned about getting reelected – on your dime.

Here’s where we’re at. The Democrats refuse to pass a tax conformity bill unless the Republicans agree to pass Clean Elections funding. This sends a clear message. Democrats know tax conformity is a critical issue for every Maine business and person. They’re holding it hostage to get taxpayer money to fund their fall campaigns.

That’s right. Democrats are willing to make businesses keep two sets of books, force people who took medical expense deductions in 2017 to file amended returns, and create absolute chaos when you go to file your income taxes next year without software – all so they can get welfare for politicians in a game of high-stakes chicken.

Aligning the state to the federal tax code usually requires minor fixes. But because the federal tax reform was comprehensive, we must make changes in a way that does not increase Mainers’ taxes. This requires the Legislature to pass a conformity bill.

The Legislature has known they must address this since January. I put in a Governor’s bill to make it easier for them, and the state’s financial and tax experts gave them significant guidance.

Yet the Democrats kept trying to use tax conformity in their quid-pro-quo, back-room deals. I thank the House Republicans for refusing these bad deals for Mainers. The Democrats in Augusta disregard taxpayers’ time and money.

These politicians are willing to inconvenience you so they do not have to inconvenience themselves by raising money with their message instead of a government handout. I cannot in good conscience enter my last six months in office without at least trying to ensure that the state is not without a way to collect tax revenue. I believe in low taxes, not tax chaos.

During my time as Governor, we’ve put the state’s fiscal house in order. I will do what I can to make sure that we reduce the havoc Speaker Gideon is willing to wreak on our tax system. This forces me to create a new state income and business tax bureaucracy, although it is the last thing I want to do.

Add tax conformity to the list of issues that required real action this session. They failed to pass a bill to fix the municipal tax lien foreclosure process so our elderly are not thrown out of their homes without the equity they have built over decades. They failed to address the minimum wage. They failed to find a sustainable way to fund Medicaid expansion, although we gave them a sensible funding plan.

The Democrats have squandered six months and failed the Maine people, again.

“It’s deja vu all over again.”

Thank you.

Paul LePage

Governor

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