Dueling Budget and Tax Reform Plans Pitched

The stage work has been set in Augusta for serious and intense tax and budget.  Democrats unveiled their tax plan dubbed a “Better Deal for Maine” last week. Meanwhile, Governor LePage says he is willing to compromise on some portions of his tax reform plan but will not budge on eliminating the income tax. The governor said this week if the legislature fails to eliminate the income tax, Maine voters will.  

 Cost of Doing Business in Maine Lowest in More Than a Decade

The annual Measures of Growth report released this week said the cost of doing business in Maine is at its lowest since the early 90’s.  The report, commissioned by the Economic Growth Council and Maine Development Foundation, tracks 27 indicators of Maine’s economy, health and environment, and found the state’s cost of doing business and industrial energy costs have dropped in recent years but remain higher than national averages. 

Local Sales Tax Bill Heard

A public hearing was held on Thursday on a plan to allow municipalities to adopt a local sales tax of up to one percent, subject to local referendum. Under current law, all sales tax revenue goes to the state. Advocates of the proposal say a local option sales tax would allow service centers to share in the bounty they create.

Maine’s 2nd Congressional District Fundraising Underway

Representative Bruce Poliquin has raised $700,000 in the last three months for his re-election campaign.  Emily Cain’s campaign also released a statement saying she has raised just over $135,000 in the first month since she announced her intention to run again after losing her bid for this seat last fall. Poliquin’s high total signifies the likely rematch between the Republican from Maine's 2nd Congressional District and Democrat Cain will be considerably more expensive than 2014, and is likely to set a new campaign finance record.

Change in How Constitutional Officers are Elected Could be Coming

An effort to change the way constitutional officers are elected was the subject of a public hearing this week. A bill before the State and Local Government committee seeks to change the state constitution to allow voters to elect the attorney general, state treasurer and secretary of state every two years. A similar effort in 2013 was defeated.  Governor LePage has repeatedly said Maine’s constitutional officers should be elected by popular vote.

Senate Confirms Reappointments

On Thursday the Maine Senate unanimously confirmed the nominations of William Lund for reappointment as Superintendent of the Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection and Lloyd  LaFountain for reappointment as Superintendent of the Bureau of Financial Institutions upon the recommendation of the Committee of Insurance and Financial Services.  Superintendent Lund was first appointed to his position in 1987.  Superintendent LaFountain has held his post since 2005.