(Augusta, ME) — In 2012 during the 125th Legislature, with both houses under the majority control of Republicans, “An Act to Provide Tax Relief for Maine’s Citizens by Reducing Income Taxes” was enacted and signed into law by Governor LePage. It was sponsored by Republican Senator David Trahan and almost unanimously opposed by Democrats.
This act established a fund into which a portion of the annual budget surplus must be deposited. When that fund reached $30 million, the law required that it would be refunded to Maine taxpayers.
In the House, only three Democrats out of 71 voted in favor of the bill in 2012. Fourteen of the fifteen Senate Democrats voted against the bill.
That fund reached the $30 million threshold at the close of the last fiscal year on June 30, 2019, triggering the automatic disbursement of the tax refunds.
Now, House Speaker Sara Gideon, in a brazenly partisan act, is taking credit for the tax refund claiming it was the result of her bipartisan bill to provide property tax relief.
In a statement, State Treasurer Henry Beck said, “Maine people made clear they want property tax relief. Speaker Gideon’s bipartisan legislation will provide over $30 million in direct relief to Maine homeowners.”
Speaker Gideon’s bill was anything but “bipartisan.” In the House where she presides, it passed only two votes shy of a strict party-line vote.
Speaker Gideon’s bill did not provide “$30 million in direct tax relief,” as demonstrated by the fiscal note. This was established and funded by the 2012 law her party opposed. Her bill merely limited who could receive the money to a small segment of property taxpayers rather than all Maine taxpayers.
Senate Republican Leader Dana Dow: “It is unconscionable that a State Treasurer whose job is to serve all of the people of Maine should make such a misleading, partisan statement transferring credit from those who fought for this tax refund back in 2012 to those who voted against it.”
Assistant Senate Republican Leader Jeff Timberlake: “Republicans enacted this tax refund in 2012 above the objections of Democrats and spent the past eight years responsibly managing state government to provide the surpluses that created the $30 million fund. To now have Speaker Gideon misrepresent the law to try and seize credit for herself while she is in the midst of a campaign for U.S. Senate is dishonest and irresponsible.”
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These current Democratic members of the Senate voted against the bill as members of the House in 2012:
- James Dill (D-Penobscot) Erin Herbig (D-Waldo)
These current Republicans members of the Senate voted for the bill as members of the House in 2012:
- Senate Republican Leader Dana Dow
- Assistant Republican Leader Jeff Timberlake
- Stacey Guerin Paul Davis Russell Black
In the Senate, the 2012 bill was opposed by Democrats including current Senator Bill Diamond.
Current House member Seth Berry voted against the bill in 2012 both in committee and again on the floor.