“We need to tax the wealthy more. We need to increase taxes on those wealthy individuals and those wealthy and profitable corporations that have rigged the system in their favor. And that is a winning message.”
These words were uttered this week by Sen. Mike Tipping (D-Penobscot) in support of a pair of bills in the Tax Committee that would substantially increase income taxes on hardworking Mainers.
One of the bills, LD 843, would increase Maine’s top income tax rate to 11.15% on the so-called “wealthy,” those who earn more than $125,000. Such measures would cripple Maine’s small business economy.
Tipping’s “eat the rich” mentality epitomizes everything that is wrong with Maine. We’re the oldest state in the nation. We continually export our youth. Every major study that ranks business climate or competitiveness puts Maine at the bottom of the pack.
You can’t incentivize young, talented professionals to settle in your state when the cost of living is as high as it is in Maine. We’re home to one of the top-10 highest state and local tax burdens in the country. For people who earn $100,000 annually or less, Maine already enforces the highest marginal income tax rate in New England. Our corporate tax rate of 8.93% is the sixth highest in the nation.
There is no lack of taxes in Maine – we have plenty of them. Even more unnecessary regulations, too. The problem isn’t a lack of resources, but rather lawmakers who have an insatiable appetite for spending your money. Government can’t be all things to all people all the time. Government has to set its priorities and spend accordingly.
That’s not what the record shows Maine has been doing, however.
Gov. Janet Mills has overseen a multi-billion-dollar expansion of state government. She and her party have no appetite to cut taxes despite record tax revenues. State government coffers have never been more flush with cash. Yet amid persistent inflation and economic uncertainty, no effort has been made to meaningfully help Maine people who are struggling to make ends meet. The best the governor and legislature can do is one-time checks during election years — serious, structural reform to the tax code to offer lasting relief into the future.
The ideology espoused by Sen. Tipping this week is exactly how Maine got into the mess it finds itself in today. The best way to attract young, talented workers and grow the economy is to take less from productive people and reduce government spending.
It’s really that simple.
DISCLOSURE: Jacob Posik is the Communications Director for the Maine Policy Institute, a 501(c)3 think tank that advocates for free markets. The Maine Wire is a project of the Maine Policy Institute.