Tax Conformity Battle Brewing at State House

Governor Paul LePage has proposed Maine adopt a bill that would bring the State into conformity with federal income tax changes approved by Congress last month. The changes, which are primarily in the form of tax cuts, are projected to cost the State $38 million over the two-year budget cycle. At the public hearing, proponents did not provide a plan to pay for the changes, which some members of the Legislature’s Taxation Committee believe is crucial to the discussion about conformity.  Without a plan to pay for these changes, the bill has been delayed. This could create problems as Maine tax return forms have already been prepared and distributed assuming conformity would pass. If the bill doesn’t pass, individuals who have already filed their taxes may have to amend. Those who haven’t filed their returns may need to delay filing until this issue is resolved, causing additional burden on tax preparers.  

DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew Appears Before Government Oversight Committee to Discuss Staffing Concerns

Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew and the state’s Riverview Psychiatric Center Superintendent Jay Harper met last week with the Government Oversight Committee to address concerns about significant staffing shortages at the state-run hospital. The Commissioner and Superintendent defended the vacancies to the Committee, arguing that staff injuries have gone from at least 20 a month a year ago, to around nine a month now. However, Special Master former Chief Justice of the Maine Supreme Court Daniel Wathen noted that 47 of the vacant posts were for direct care providers, and argued that the hospital’s staffing situation remains in crisis.

Legislative Council Meets to Consider After Deadline Bill Requests

The Legislative Council met Thursday afternoon to consider bill requests, some of which have been submitted recently, others of which have been pending as tabled for up to several months. The Council, which is made up of leadership of both the House and the Senate, is comprised of 5 Republicans and 5 Democrats. After consideration, the Council voted to admit about a dozen bill requests and reject about a half a dozen. Around 25 requests are tabled for consideration at a later date.