In Maine, Dueling Ballots


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A new proposal from a Maine coalition could set the stage for dueling tax ballot initiatives in Maine. The Stand Up for Students proposal would create a 3 percent surcharge on households with taxable income over $200,000, generating an estimated $110 million in revenue earmarked for costs associated with classroom instruction. According to an ITEP analysis, the tax increase would impact just 2 percent of Maine households, all of them among the top 5 percent of the state’s taxpayers.

Meanwhile, Maine Republicans have proposed a ballot initiative that would replace the graduated income tax structure with a flat income tax rate of 4 percent for all Mainers. As we outlined in a previous blog post, the Republicans’ ballot initiative would cost $550 million in state revenues and give the top one percent of Maine taxpayers an average tax cut of over $21,000. Most middle- and low-income Maine taxpayers would see no benefit given the higher sales and property taxes or drastic budget cuts necessitated by such a plan. For a side-by-side comparison, see the table below.

Voters in the Pine Tree State will face a stark choice if the backers of both ballot measures are successful in getting their preferred policy choice on the ballot. It’s worth pointing out that, in the event that both ballot measures pass, the Republicans’ flat tax initiative would not nullify the Stand Up for Students proposal, as the latter is a surcharge and not a modification to tax rates. 

Side by Side Comparison of Maine’s Dueling Ballots

 

Stand Up for Students Initiative

Maine Republicans’ Citizen Initiative

Revenue

+$110 million in new revenue

-$550 million in lost revenue

Top 1 Percent ($391,000 or more)

Taxes increase by about $15,000

Taxes cut by an average of more than $21,000

Bottom 20 Percent (less than $23,000)

No tax increase

Income taxes cut on average by $14 (but likely swallowed up by sales and property tax increases, and the majority of the state’s poorest residents would see no change in income taxes)

Impact on Services

All new revenue goes to K-12 instruction

Public services will see big cuts or new sales/property taxes to pay for them

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