Independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler has unveiled his $185-million plan he says will reduce property taxes by 20%-40% and increase municipal revenue sharing by roughly $100 million.
“The burden that property taxes are placing in a lot of Maine residents, the people who are particularly vulnerable, seniors who are struggling to maintain their own homes, homes they own, but they can’t afford the operating costs. Towns and cities who are struggling to figure out how to find schools and municipal services,” Cutler said Wednesday.
The plan would adjust the homestead exemption tax rebate program from $10,000-$50,000, meaning a home valued at $150,000 would be taxed at $100,000.
He’s created a calculator on his campaign website to show people you what they would be saving in property taxes with his plan.
“We’ve gone so far in the wrong direction putting so much of the tax burden on the wrong people in Maine that we’ve got to do something to relieve it,” Cutler said.
To pay for the lost revenue, Cutler has presented two options:
* Raising the sales tax from May 1 to October 30 and making the temporary tax hike on meals and lodging, passed by lawmakers last year, permanent.
* An extension of the sales tax base to include amusement and recreational services such as golf, skiing, bowling, theater tickets and amusement parks.
If those proposals are not palatable, Cutler’s other option to create revenue for the state is to simply raising the sales tax from 5% to 6%.
Cutler says his plan would lower property taxes, export the tax burden to tourists, while investing more money in education and the marketing of Maine. He dismissed the idea that raising taxes seasonally and on things like meals and lodging to target Maine’s visitors would harm the state’s robust tourist industry.
“If I thought that I never would have brought this plan forward.”
His opponents aren’t buying into the plan. Governor LePage’s Senior Political Adviser Brent Littlefield says the plan “robs Peter to pay Paul” adding is a statement that:
“Local governments are under no obligation to cut any property taxes. He (Cutler) can’t control them. Many will just do what they have done for years and increase spending, not cut taxes.”
Democratic hopeful Mike Michaud’s camp was equally skeptical. Campaign spokeswoman Lizzy Reinholt said of the plan saying in a statement:
“The best way to reduce property taxes is for the state to meet its existing obligations to towns and cities by funding municipal revenue sharing and the state’s share of K-12 education.”
Cutler’s plan might be a tough sell to Mainers.in 2008, lawmakers passed a similar plan, but that was repealed by a citizens initiative.
“I don’t think it’s gonna be difficult at all, but it’s impossible to do it without leadership. It’s likely that we’ll get it done with leadership. And that’s what a governor’s job is all about.”
To calculate your estimated property taxes under the Cutler plan go to: http://www.cutlerformaine.com/taxes