Commentary

Good Policy Must Overcome Political Games

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Legislative Democrats have decided to brazenly support policy that hurts our state’s businesses and taxpayers. For the first time in recent memory, relief in the form of tax conformity is being used as a political tool. In the past, conformity has been passed quickly and easily in order to ensure that Mainers are able to file their taxes with the minimal amount of confusion about the federal and state codes.

This year, however, Democrats in the House of Representatives have decided that there is a political opportunity in raiding the budget stabilization fund for an election year slogan about education funding. As a result, they will not support providing tax relief through conformity unless we both raid the stabilization fund and eliminate the Maine Capital Investment Credit (MCIC). 4,000 small business filers use the MCIC, as do 300 corporations. At the public hearing in support of the legislation, local businesses such as J&S Oil, Barber Foods, Cianbro, and Hammond Tractor testified as to the importance of conformity and the MCIC for their businesses.

In today’s ever-changing technological world, businesses have to frequently invest in new equipment and technological upgrades that can be very costly, but are necessary to keep up with the competition. Maine’s tax policy needs to reflect that investment is not only welcomed, but encouraged in our state. By endangering conformity and advocating for the elimination of the MCIC, Democrats are broadcasting just the opposite.

When the tax conformity legislation first came through the Maine Senate, not a single Democrat stood up and spoke against the measure. At that point, they were not opposed to deductions for teachers and students, a credit for parents, and relief for our small businesses. Then the legislation hit the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives, and now here we are, with these economic benefits being held hostage over an issue we should be debating separately.

The tax relief itself, while significant, is only a piece of the problem here. Businesses need consistency in order to budget, plan, and invest. By ginning up a political battle, Democrats are delaying businesses in filing their tax returns for 2015, as they don’t know what our tax code will look like! It’s common sense that businesses would rather go to a state where they have consistency and predictability. Our state benefits from their investments, as expansion means more jobs. When a business physically expands, jobs are created in the construction industry. When a business expands its services, jobs are created within their organization. Consistency encourages investment – political battles about tax relief discourage it.

Democrats are very good at playing politics, but Republicans are committed to making sure these games don’t jeopardize good policy for our state. By both raiding the stabilization fund and denying tax relief, Democrats are telling creditors and business investors that Maine is unreliable. That’s not the reputation I want for our state. That’s not the reputation that has helped Maine’s unemployment rate fall to 4%. After forty years of Democrat rule, we have righted our ship of state and seen our economy improve. We can’t afford to slide backwards.

About Garrett Mason

Senator Garrett Mason is the current Senate Majority Leader. He represents District 22 which includes Durham, Greene, Leeds, Lisbon, Litchfield, Sabattus, Turner, Wales and Wayne.

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