Looming state shutdown dangerous for Maine’s economy

June 23, 2017 by
Sarah Austin

Sarah Austin

As the state’s two year budget comes due, Republican lawmakers continue to hold negotiations hostage over demands to repeal the voter approved 3% surcharge on household income over $200,000. The state is just seven days away from a potential state shutdown if a budget isn’t enacted on June 30th. Analysis released by the Maine State Employees Association and MECEP Friday shows the devastating impact a state shutdown could … Read the rest

Republican Education Funding Plan Would Raise Property Taxes

June 1, 2017 by
Sarah Austin

Sarah Austin

Maine voters asked legislators to tax the wealthiest 2% of Maine households to fully fund education in the state. Now, Republican lawmakers are trying to weaken our commitment to local schools so they can overturn the will of Maine voters, give tax cuts to the wealthiest families, and shortchange Maine schools.   

Because of the legislature’s failure to pay state retirement obligations in the 1980s and ‘90s, the Read the rest

Upside-down tax plan, missed opportunity, and unnecessary and harmful cuts in the governor’s budget proposal

January 13, 2017 by
Sarah Austin

Sarah Austin

At a time when Maine families are falling out of the middle-class, when experienced workers need new skills to secure good paying jobs in a modern economy, and when state infrastructure is in need of improvement and expansion, the state budget presents an opportunity to solve shared problems and return our quality of life to the way life should be.

Governor LePage’s final biennial budget, released last week, … Read the rest

More than One in Seven Working Mainers Will Receive Pay Raise Tomorrow

January 6, 2017 by
Sarah Austin

Sarah Austin

The voter-approved minimum wage increase takes effect tomorrow, increasing wages for 74,000 Mainers. Nearly 30,000 additional Maine workers are expected to receive a raise this year as employers adjust their pay scales to compensate workers earning wages near the new minimum.

The new law increases the minimum wage from $7.50 to $9.00 an hour this year and will increase the minimum wage by a dollar each year until … Read the rest

Demystifying Maine’s school funding formula to show how Question 2 will move our students to the head of the class

October 17, 2016 by
Sarah Austin

Sarah Austin

Question 2 on this November’s ballot increases revenue for education by $159 million a year. The state would distribute revenue raised through the existing state funding formula, and state funding would reach  55 percent of statewide education costs, a funding benchmark Maine voters mandated in 2004. Fully 94 percent of Maine students live in districts likely to receive increased state funding if Question 2 passes. Question 2 would … Read the rest

Increasing the minimum wage to $12 will raise the annual pay of 93,000 Maine women by an average of $3,200

August 19, 2016 by
Sarah Austin

Sarah Austin

This November, Mainers will vote on an initiative that would gradually raise Maine’s minimum wage from $7.50 to $12 an hour by 2020. The effects of the initiative would be broad, including raising wages for 1 in 3 working Mainers by 2020 when the $12 minimum wage would be fully phased in. But, the advantages it offers for Maine women of all ages, including seniors and young girls, … Read the rest

New report affirms education and infrastructure as foundations of a strong state economy

April 13, 2016 by

Sarah Austin blog 11-16-2015The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) released a report today that details a roadmap for stronger state economies. Central to the CBPP proven prescriptions for economic growth are strengthening education and infrastructure systems.  To pay for these priorities, CBPP recommends policy corrections to reduce unnecessary spending and increase revenue from high income individuals and corporations.

Since the recession, budget cuts to the education system at every level have … Read the rest

Eliminating Maine’s Estate Tax Will Harm Future Prosperity of All Mainers

March 2, 2016 by

Sarah Austin blog 11-16-2015Governor LePage submitted a bill to eliminate Maine’s estate tax yesterday. The estate tax helps fund education, health care, and infrastructure that keeps our economy strong and competitive and provides a pathway to prosperity for all Mainers regardless of the circumstances of their birth. Eliminating the state tax would jeopardize funding for these pillars of our economy and further divide the wealthiest Mainers from the rest of us.

Low- and … Read the rest

What Mainers need to know about the tax conformity debate

February 16, 2016 by

Sarah Austin blog 11-16-2015Maine legislators are currently debating tax conformity, a procedure primarily to make Maine’s tax code consistent with changes Congress made to the federal tax code last year. However, as the Bangor Daily News noted, “Over the years, Maine has been in different stages of compliance with the federal code around bonus depreciation, which allows upfront tax breaks for business equipment.” Choosing to conform to federal bonus depreciation is a … Read the rest

Why tax conformity really matters to Maine teachers and families

February 12, 2016 by

Sarah Austin blog 11-16-2015

“Propping up a tax break that reimburses teachers less than $20 as a true means of offering relief to teachers, who by the way spend on average $513 on school supplies each year, is just wrong. The reality is that legislators are not debating this meager tax break for teachers. The tax conformity provisions for teachers, students, and homeowners have vast bi-partisan support.”

The Maine Department of Administration and Finance … Read the rest