Democrats Propose Delaying Tax Cuts To Balance State Budget
Democratic legislative leaders are calling for a delay in tax cuts enacted last session. They say the delay is needed to balance a $6.3 billion, two-year budget without shifting tax increases to property taxpayers. Backed by about 50 Democratic lawmakers Wednesday, House Speaker Mark Eves and Senate President Justin Alfond said the tax cuts passed in 2011 are not paid for and should be delayed for another budget cycle in order to balance the budget that must be passed by June 30. Democrats say their proposal is a better alternative than the governor’s unpopular plan. “In order to pay for a tax break that largely benefits the wealthy, his budget increases property taxes on the middle class, on seniors and on small businesses, on homeowners and renters,” Eves told reporters. Wednesday, Democrats painted the tax cuts as “tax breaks for the wealthy” despite the fact that two years ago those cuts passed the House and Senate overwhelmingly and with bipartisan support. Among those who supported the cuts in 2011, Senator Justin Alfond, who had a change of heart on Wednesday.”We look at this and say to ourselves, do we do the responsible thing now? And act like adults and say you know what, we can’t pay for it? It’s okay to be wrong,” Alfond told reporters. “We wish the economy was better. We wish these tax cuts were paid for. But they’re not. They haven’t been. They’ve never been paid for.”Republican Senate Leader Michael Thibodeau says Democrats’ spending – not tax cuts – are the problem.”Well it’s amazing to me that the Democrats would choose to hold a rally in order to announce they want to increase the tax burdens on the people of the state of Maine. I don’t know who came up with that idea but I think that’s in poor taste,” Thibodeau said.Republicans in the House and Senate reject the Democratic solution, calling it the largest tax hike in state history that’s going to be used to fund the state’s ever-expanding welfare agency. “We come back year after year to ever-increasing costs at DHHS, the state’s welfare agency, to the point where DHHS is crowding out funding for local aid and education, and the Democrats’ solution is to raise taxes and expand DHHS,” said Assistant House Republican Leader Alexander Willette of Mapleton. “Democrats are using the paychecks of working Mainers to double down on the welfare state.” A budget featuring a delay in the tax cuts passed in 2011 would face an uphill climb in the legislature but Republicans said Wednesday they are open to restoring some of the revenue sharing cuts proposed in the LePage. budget.