To the editor:
The voters of Maine have spoken about funding education, not once, but twice. In 2004, they first made it law in Maine that the state fund 55 percent of basic education, statewide. Successive legislatures and governors have never fulfilled this legal obligation. Recent budgets have fallen yet further below the required 55 percent. So Mainers once again stepped in, passing Question 2 last November, specifying how to fund education in Maine. The new law enables us to reach 55 percent, still legally required.
A 3 percent surcharge on taxable income above $200,000 funds education. The wealthiest pay about the same percentage of income for local and state taxes that they paid before 2010, when they enjoyed a tax cut at the expense of all other Mainers. They now pay almost the same percentage of income as 90 percent of Maine taxpayers.
Despite all this, Sen. Dana Dow has submitted a bill contrary to the will of the voters. It would change the law they passed in November. His proposal would give the wealthiest another tax break by adding funding for education, only with proceeds from marijuana use and other sales taxes. The projected proceeds are about one-third the $150 million raised by current law, leaving the 55 percent unreached, though still legally required.
This defective plan flies in the face of two laws established by the voters of Maine which work. Sen. Dow should abandon it.
Everyday Mainers trying to keep a roof over their heads need a property tax cut as enabled by current law, Question 2. It’s much better than another tax cut for the wealthy. Funding our children’s education – our future – is a fundamental commitment. A tax on marijuana use just won’t get us there.
Besides, smoking joints is no way to fund education.