On Revenues and Referenda: Will Maine Voters Increase Taxes on the Wealthy to Support Public Education?


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Maine voters will decide the fate of Question 2 next week, a ballot measure that increases taxes on the state’s wealthiest households and provides additional revenue for K-12 education.  If approved, a 3 percent tax surcharge would apply to taxable income above $200,000 generating more than $150 million annually for a new dedicated public instruction fund.  An ITEP analysis found that the measure would only impact Maine’s wealthiest 2 percent of households who currently pay an effective state and local tax rate lower than the other 98 percent of Mainers.

Proponents of the measure, led by Stand up for Students Maine, say that school funding has been falling short and years of tax cuts for wealthy Mainers are partially to blame.  Measure 2 would not only bring in additional revenue for K-12 spending, but it would also help to improve tax fairness by requiring the state’s wealthiest households to pay their fair share. 

Opponents argue that the new revenue generated by the measure will not solve public school inequities.  There is also concern that the three percent surcharge would make Maine’s top marginal personal income tax rate the second highest in the country behind California.

Polling results show Question 2 has strong support from potential voters.  If such support pans out at the ballot, Maine will have a more fair and adequate revenue stream for public education.

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