The Maine Heritage Policy Center’s tax, fiscal and health care work focuses on fighting poverty by promoting greater prosperity for working Maine families. Limiting government, lowering taxes, and advocating for access to comprehensive, private health insurance coverage and high-quality, cost effective health care providers are critical for promoting transparency and growing and sustainable economy. MHPC will advance these core principles through sound research, aggressive outreach, education, and the promotion of clear policy agendas relating to Maine’s Income Tax, Minimum Wage Issues, Right-To-Work, Welfare Reform, Energy Costs and Health Care.
- In 2013, Mainers began enjoying the benefits of the largest tax cut in state history in which the personal income tax rate fell to 7.95 percent from 8.5 percent. MHPC helped write the Governor’s budget which made this tax cut possible and MHPC will push for additional rate cuts until the rate falls back to zero percent.
- The number of food stamp recipients has fallen more than 22% since 2012, in part because of the LePage administration’s decision to re-instate work/volunteer requirements for able-bodied adults.
- From 2011 to 2014, the number of families receiving TANF benefits went from 13,503 to 6,119, a drop of more than 54%.
- MHPC conducted extensive education and outreach with Governor LePage who signed a bill [PL90] in May 2012 that relaxed the so-called “community rating” bands for the Individual and Small Group Markets. This law marked the first-ever free-market health care reform in Maine and now allows insurers more flexibility.
- MHPC worked with Governor LePage and the legislature in 2012 to halt the advancement of Obamacare in Maine by abandoning the state health insurance exchange plan and rejecting Medicaid expansion.
Improving Maine’s Business Climate
The Maine Heritage Policy Center is working to identify specific regulations that currently burden Maine business the most. By conducting a comprehensive review of the Maine regulatory code, MHPC will single out the most harmful regulations faced by business owners, particularly small business owners, who create jobs in Maine. We will enumerate the most harmful regulations, detail why they are so damaging, release the Red-Tape Guidebook report, and make an economic argument for why those regulations should be repealed.
- In 2011, MHPC worked strategically with Governor LePage and then State Treasurer Bruce Poliquin to advance significant state pension policy reforms that reduced Maine’s pension liability by $1.7 billion. MHPC continues to work to protect these reforms and build on this momentum for additional reforms that reduce the size and scope of government.
Fixing Broken Government
The Maine Heritage Policy Center is continuously working to increase transparency and accountability in state government. While we have made some tremendous strides over the last few years, there is still much work to be done. Maine’s budget process remains dysfunctional, the number of state employees continues to swell as the private sector suffers, an ever increasing amount of Clean Election funds are being used to launch frivolous campaigns, and the Attorney General’s Office continues to work against the executive branch, blatantly refusing to represent the interests of the State of Maine in court.
- In 2008, MHPC developed maineopengov.org, the first website to offer a searchable, downloadable database of Maine’s payroll, pension, and other spending accounts in order to provide transparency and accountability on how taxpayer dollars are spent. As a direct result of maineopengov.org, the State of Maine has since developed the Maine Open Checkbook website that provides similar functionality.
- In 2011, MHPC led the fight for open records from the Maine Turnpike Authority, a quasi-state agency that had previously operated without legislative scrutiny. MHPC’s work uncovered out-of-control salary increases and served as the catalyst for a major investigation that ultimately exposed the corrupt use of state funds for vacations and travel by the Maine Turnpike Authority’s director, ultimately resulting in his forced resignation after 23 years at his post. The state has since reformed the governing board and budgeting process to ensure a greater level of accountability.
- In 2012, MHPC discovered a pattern of irresponsible financial management, ranging from indiscriminate employee bonuses and political donations to taxpayer-funded “fun days” that included personal masseuses, magicians, bouncy tents, and other ridiculous expenditures by the Maine State Housing Authority that directly limited the agency’s ability to serve the
state’s most needy. As a direct result of MHPC’s investigation, the director resigned and under new leadership, the Housing Authority drove costs down by 36% and created 148 more units of affordable housing in 2013.
Preparation for Lifetime Opportunities
The Maine Heritage Policy Center will focus on determining how to provide Maine students with the best possible education and the highest level of academic preparation possible, so that Maine students may prosper in the competitive, global economy. MHPC’s research-based education program is designed to identify the elements necessary to build an education system that effectively meets the needs and challenges of the individual student with the parent in control of education decisions for his or her child. We believe the existing education system is not adequately responsive to the concerns or interests of parents and that parents should be able to select the best individualized teaching and learning options for their children. The long-term vision is to improve the outcomes for the greatest number of students by ensuring that students receive high-quality primary and secondary school instruction, and are prepared to function effectively in colleges, universities, or vocational training programs.
- In June 2011, with the help of Governor LePage and the legislature, the State of Maine passed legislation allowing for charter schools – an issue The Maine Heritage Policy Center worked to advance for more than six years.