Senator Matt Pouliot delivers this week’s Republican Radio Address
By Senator Matt Pouliot
For American consumers, the economic news released this week is hard to stomach but it’s something we’ve been feeling every day. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released their inflation report for June and it showed that prices rose at a record 9.1 percent in June. What cost you $1 when President Joe Biden took office now costs you, on average, $1.15 when you factor in the compounding effect of his first 18 months in office.
Hello, I am Senator Matt Pouliot of Kennebec County and I wish I had better news for you in this week’s Republican Radio Address.
When I say $1.15, however, it all depends upon what you’re buying. If it’s a dozen eggs, what cost you $1.47 in January 2021 now costs you $1.30 more. If you’re buying a pound of beef, your price rose 16 percent. And if gas for your vehicle cost $2.33 a gallon in January 2021, now it’s more than doubled to $5 per gallon and fuel oil is running about the same.
Who would have ever thought inflation could get this bad? Well, certainly not the current administration – remember, they said “It’s only transitory.” Not according to my wallet.
You know, the reality is this 40-year high inflation rate – mind you, the highest we’ve seen since 1979 – means that as workers and consumers, we have lost ground when it comes to how much we earn. And with no end in sight, the cumulative 15 percent inflation rate over the past 18 months since Biden took office is the greatest threat to Maine families. It’s no different than a tax hike – in fact, it’s the most regressive kind of tax there is, and it’s taking more of what you earn.
And if you think about it, it means that the value of the dollar is dropping – as we print more money, common sense tells you that the dollar bills already out there are worth less as a result. It’s simple economics.
Yet the supplemental budget we passed in April contained a major priority that Republicans have been focused on for nearly two years. We were able to return $729 million to most Maine taxpayers through $850 refund checks. And we wanted to send these checks to every Mainer – everyone who contributes to our economy. However, our Democrat colleagues objected to this and even wanted fewer Mainers to qualify. We were able to push back and increase the income qualifications despite our colleagues’ efforts at multiple levels to reduce them.
While the Governor dubbed this as an inflation relief check, our view is that this money was never the government’s to begin with. It was always yours, and this is your tax refund.
By returning your tax dollars, we kept government growth in check. You only have two choices when you collect too much in taxes: either spend it and grow government, or “Give it Back.” We will always choose the latter – the money belongs to you and those who paid it in.
The question now is whether you have received it. The Maine Budget Office told some media outlets last week that about 600,000 of the estimated 858,000 checks had already been mailed and those residents who have filed Maine income tax returns can expect to receive their payment by mid- to late-July. As we approach that timeframe, I want to remind those who are eligible and have filed a return to check the status of your payment.
Similar to the system set up for last year’s Pandemic Relief Payment, Maine Revenue Services has a portal where you can check the status of your payment. If you go to portal.maine.gov/refundstatus/payment, you can enter the required information to see where your payment is. You can also just Google “Maine Refund Check.”
I also want to remind those who qualify and have not yet filed a Maine income tax return that you need to do so, even if you haven’t historically or are otherwise not required to. You have until October 31 to do this and you’ll receive the additional tax refund – this money belongs to you and you sure don’t want to leave it in the government’s hands.
For those of you who need tax assistance, there are several resources available including CA$HMaine and many of the Community Action Partners like Penquis. Visit their website, cashmaine.org, to find a location near you.
United Way also offers tax filing help through their myfreetaxes.com website, and AARP can also assist those who are members and other residents as well. Call 888-227-7669. There are also paid services that can help if you’re in a pinch.
Most importantly, we often forget relatives who may also qualify and have not filed a tax return in years, especially seniors. Again, this is the only way they will receive the tax refund so reach out to them and make sure they file. We want everyone who is entitled to this refund to get it. We all should want that.
Again, this is Senator Matt Pouliot of Kennebec County. Thank you for joining me for this week’s Republican Radio Address, and I hope you have a great weekend.
Senator Matt Pouliot is the Assistant Republican Leader in his second term in the Maine Senate and represents the Kennebec County communities of District 15. He is the Senate Republican Lead for the Taxation Committee.