In this election year when all 186 seats in the Legislature are up for grabs, what’s happening right now at the Statehouse should send a clear message to voters: if you want more jobs and more economic opportunity for your kids and grandkids, never vote for a Democrat. Never. Ever.
If that sounds like a harshly partisan assessment, I won’t argue the point. What I will argue is that from my vantage point in the front row of the House chamber, it’s clear to me that the most extreme elements of the Democrat party are now in the driver’s seat at the Statehouse. Worse yet, rank-and-file Democrat legislators are marching in lockstep with leadership’s job-killing progressive agenda.
The latest skirmish in the Democrats’ war of attrition on the private-sector job market centers around “tax conformity,” the process of amending Maine’s state income tax to reflect recent business-friendly changes to the federal tax code.
During the public hearing before the Taxation Committee, more than a dozen witnesses testified in favor of full conformity. Representatives of Maine’s trucking and construction industries, as well as family-owned food processing and fuel delivery businesses urged legislators to fully conform to the bipartisan changes passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama in December.
Most important to these job creators is predictability with regard to deducting expenses for equipment purchases. A token one-year extension of the depreciation allowance leaves them vulnerable to having the rug pulled from beneath their feet next year after they have taken the calculated risk of investing in the growth of their businesses.
But Democrats in the Maine House of Representatives chose to ignore the job creators, and listened instead to leftist radical Ben Chin, paid lobbyist for the far-left Maine Peoples Alliance. With an annual budget approaching $2 million, the Maine Peoples Alliance and its twin sister nonprofit Maine Peoples Resource Center are the tail that wags the Democrat donkey in Maine politics. In conservative circles, we refer to them as the Marxist Peoples Alliance.
After the state Senate unanimously passed full conformity without objection by a single Democrat, Chin and his political machine turned up the heat on House Democrats and effectively derailed tax conformity with a poison-pill amendment in the House.
Sponsored by Rep. Ryan Tipping-Spitz (D- Orono) – whose brother Mike Tipping is communications director for the Maine Peoples Alliance — the House amendment is a job-killer. The amendment guts full conformity, and adds a totally unrelated spending provision that raids the state’s Rainy Day fund for a $22 million payout for school subsidies. The additional spending is on top of an $83 million increase in state aid to education in the biennial budget enacted just seven months ago. Over the past decade, education spending is up 18% while school enrollment has fallen by 13%. Meanwhile, student achievement is flat, with just 38% of Maine 8th-graders proficient in reading.
Tax conformity is now being held hostage to an unwarranted increase in school subsidies that never saw the light of day in a public hearing. At this writing, Democrats are dug in, and they are prepared to kill tax conformity if they don’t get their way on hijacking $22 million from the Rainy Day fund.
Not a single Democrat in the House broke ranks on the Tipping-Spitz amendment. They have effectively taken tax conformity hostage, and now they’re threatening to shoot the hostage if we refuse to pay their ransom demand. This bizarre spectacle is being played out in a very public forum, while Maine’s family-owned businesses are left in limbo, unable to file their state tax returns until the hostage is either released or killed.
The message from Maine to the rest of the country couldn’t be clearer: Maine is NOT open for business, and majority Democrats have no interest in growing private-sector jobs. The only jobs they want to create are government jobs, and jobs in the Nanny State nonprofit industrial complex that feeds off state government programs.
That’s why middle-class Mainers, people who get up and go to work in the morning to support their families, cannot afford to send Democrats to the Legislature. I don’t care if it’s your next-door neighbor, your Sunday School teacher, or your kid’s basketball coach. When Democrat legislators arrive at the Statehouse, they are whipped into line by their leadership and the Marxist Peoples Alliance. The House vote on tax conformity was just the latest example of how partisan politics works under the dome in Augusta.
Remember in November, Maine people. Friends don’t let friends vote Democrat.