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Governor’s Address: Democrats’ insistence on surtax will harm our small businesses

Politicians in Augusta need to escape the bubble and listen to Maine’s small business owners. They don’t want to be over-taxed so their money can fund an already bloated education system.

Dear Maine Taxpayer,

A survey of small Maine businesses reported that more than 77 percent of small-business owners want to eliminate the 3 percent surtax imposed by referendum last November.

This job-killing surtax is already affecting our small businesses. 68 percent of small-business owners said the surtax will result in less money for them to invest in workers. Over 19 percent of them said the surtax will make it more difficult to hire or retain high-skill workers.

These high-skill workers include doctors, dentists, engineers, lawyers, accountants and other professionals. Many are preparing to leave the state, and some have already left. Recruiters say this surtax is making it more difficult to attract these much-needed professionals to Maine.

Sadly, this is all unnecessary. Maine spends plenty of money on education. More than two-thirds of Maine small businesses agree. They say our public schools are a “costly, inefficient system with too much administrative overhead.”

And they’re right. It is inexcusable that we have 148 superintendents for only 177,000 students.

In the last decade, we’ve increased spending on education by 27 percent—but student enrollment has dropped nearly 12 percent. The state already funds more than one billion dollars for our schools, and now Democrats are demanding hundreds of millions of dollars more.

A majority of small-business owners believe that any additional funding for education must include cost-saving reforms like the kind that my administration has been discussing with the legislature for several years now.

59 percent of Maine small businesses say “we should expect better results for what we spend” on education. But we all know Democrats don’t listen to small business owners.

Democrats are in the pocket of the teacher’s union and the Maine People’s Alliance, two organizations that want Maine to have the highest income tax rate in the country for income under $1 million.

Small businesses are the lifeblood of the Maine economy. It is unconscionable that Democrats in Augusta continue to promote policies that harm small businesses and hardworking Mainers.

They say they want to tax the rich. But 80 percent of Maine’s small businesses employ 19 or fewer employees. They are not rich.

The Legislature is still struggling to pass a budget that will avoid a state government shutdown. I am extremely discouraged by the laissez faire attitude of leadership in the Legislature. More importantly, I am truly shocked and saddened at the lack of appreciation our legislative leaders have for Maine small businesses.

I submitted a budget in January that protects Maine small businesses, reduces income taxes and restrains government spending. I call on the Legislature to do the same. I urge you to call your legislator and join my efforts to do no harm to the State of Maine.

Thank You,

Paul R. LePage

Governor

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