In an error-riddled blog, the Tax Foundation wonders why Maine voters “. . . delivered a blow to state income tax reform.” The Tax Foundation went on to blame the demise of tax reform on the work of special interest groups. Really?
Let’s look at the facts. The original bill, LD 1495, passed on party-lines without bipartisan support. in contrast, the repeal effort garnered 186,772 votes on election day. Who were these voters? Well, only 126,144 voters participated in the Republican primaries which means that at least 60,628 Independent and Democratic voters (32 percent) also supported the repeal (that assumes all Republican voters supported the repeal). So in contrast to the enactment of tax reform, the repeal was a bipartisan effort. It looks to me like the “special interests” were more at work in the enactment of the tax reform bill, not in the repeal which clearly enjoyed broad-based support.
Perhaps the Tax Foundation’s erroneous conclusions can be attributed to their factual errors when they state: “the successful campaign was supported by the Maine State Chamber of Commerce and was well funded. A group called Save the Mortgage Interest Deduction raised $222,589. A political action committee called No Higher Taxes for Maine raised $337,180 including $25,000 from Leon Gorman, chairman of famed retailer L.L. Bean.” HHHmmmm, while Save the Mortgage Interest Deduction supported the repeal, the other two groups opposed the repeal and supported the tax reform plan. Yet the Tax Foundation blog lumps them in all together when in fact they aren’t.
The Tax Foundation cites an article from Businessweek to support the claim, but I found that the article was clear in who supported the repeal and who didn’t. More importantly, according to the Businessweek article, it was those special-interests that opposed the repeal that clearly out-funded the supporters to the tune of $587,180 to $249,769. So I’m still not seeing the evidence that special-interests killed tax reform, though it seems the reverse is true.
Alas, this is not the first misunderstanding of the plight of Maine’s taxpayers by the Tax Foundation. Their so-called “Senior Economist” no longer believes that Mainers shoulder one of the highest tax burdens in the country. Wow, gotta be news to most Mainers! I wonder how he would explain Maine’s lost decade of job growth . . . must be the weather. This might be a better answer . . . the sales tax is a job killer.