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  • LePage administration secrecy holds up tax breaks for small businesses, homeowners, students

     Lawmakers on the Taxation Committee on Wednesday tabled Gov. Paul LePage’s $38 million tax conformity package after the administration refused to provide information about how it would pay for the entire plan, which includes a $22 million tax cut to benefit large, out-of-state corporations.

    Finance Commissioner Richard Rosen told committee members that the administration would only share information about funding sources once legislators approve the bill.

    Democrats on the committee support the portions of tax conformity that benefit small businesses, teachers, homeowners and students. Those benefits face unnecessarily delay because the LePage administration will not disclose important details of its plan, which will grant tax breaks to big, out-of-state corporations through a separate section of package.

    Tax conformity will be one of the most consequential pieces of legislation to be considered this session. Meanwhile, the administration has already printed tax forms assuming the Legislature will follow its lead and pass the governor’s conformity plan it its entirety.

    “Only in political la-la-land would a person support politicians who fund $22 million in kickbacks for big corporate filers headquartered out of state without knowing how to pay for it,” said Rep. Adam Goode, D-Bangor, House chair of the Taxation Committee. “It’s particularly frustrating that the LePage administration is holding up tax relief for small businesses, teachers, homeowners and students so it can hide a secret stash of funding.”

    Sen. Nate Libby, D-Lewiston, the lead Senate Democrat on the committee, criticized Commissioner Rosen for saying he wouldn’t reveal the governor’s plans to pay for the tax conformity package until after the committee agreed to pass it.

    “The Taxation Committee isn’t a rubber stamp for anyone, including the governor,” said Sen. Libby. “We have to do our due diligence, and that means we need the information required to make good policy decisions for the people of Maine. The administration can’t hold necessary information and expect us to sign a blank check.”