It appears that State legislative leaders and Governor Paul LePage may finally reach an agreement on the critical tax conformity bill as early as tomorrow. As previously reported here and here, the tax conformity bill was hijacked in the State House after passing unanimously out of the State Senate in a last-ditch effort by certain legislators to pass an unrelated measure that would raid the rainy day fund to increase education spending.
The entire situation is baffling, considering that no one was ever actually opposed to tax conformity. Representative Linda Sanborn (D-Gorham) noted that the only chance for her measure to increase funding for education with funds swept from the rainy day fund to succeed this legislative session would be if it were tied to the critical tax conformity legislation. While certain legislators were playing politics, many Maine residents are waiting until this measure is voted on to file their state tax returns ahead of the approaching filing deadline.
Thanks to the conservatives in both bodies, the compromise whittled down the amount that will be swept from the rainy day fund from the proposed $23 million to $15 million, with the creation of a Blue Ribbon Commission to study education performance and spending. As Senator Garrett Mason (R-Androscoggin) has said it has been, “…all for an election year slogan about education funding.”
It is important to note that the only component of this bill to ever have any public input was full tax conformity. Maine businesses and taxpayers deserve more. This is the kind of behavior that keeps Maine’s business climate hostile and prevents new businesses from relocating to our great state.
Senate President Michael Thibodeau sees it as “…a fair compromise given all the parties that have interest in the bill.” Governor LePage has stated that it was “the only way” to pass the conformity that Maine taxpayers want and deserve.