On November 7, Maine voters will go to the polls and vote. One of the issues on which they will be asked to decide yea or nay is the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR). Maine needs TABOR, and needs it in the worst way.
I had run a business in Maine, The Monument Newspaper, and paid my share of taxes on it. I was also owner of various properties and paid my share of property tax, owned vehicles and paid excise tax, I'd gone to college in Maine and earned both my undergraduate and graduate degree in the state. I was a teacher in Maine, worked other retail and manufacturing jobs. It's a struggle to live in Maine- everything is expensive. Food...gas, fuel, rents, taxes. Everything. And the pay is low.
Then I sold my business and moved to Georgia. What a difference! I had not realized how much of my money went to the Maine Government until I moved away and experienced the difference.
A common myth is that the southern states, particularly Georgia, lag in their commitment to and delivery of quality education. That the New England states far exceed them. I have not found this to be the case. For example, average teacher salary in Georgia is: $42,210. In Maine, it's $36,250. Since Georgia's goal to reach the national average was adopted in 1995, the average teacher salary in the state has risen from $32,291 to $41,023 in 1999-2000, an increase of 27 percent (compared to 14 percent for the nation) and in 2006 is now over $42,000.
In Maine, one works and works and works and pays a lot of taxes for the privilege. Most of your paycheck goes to pay taxes and to the government, and with lower salaries and higher taxes that means more struggle. To top it off, Maine government spends $6,988,554,697 per year...and this does not include local spending, like for education.
Maine Cigarette taxes are 122% of national average, $1 to the national average of 45 cents. Gas is 15% higher than the national average, property taxes rose 5.2% annually OVER inflation from 1987 to 1997, which was the fastest increase in the nation. Maine has the seventh highest top income tax rate in the nation. "Top" in Maine means if you make more than $16,500. Overall, Maine has the highest state and local tax burden in the nation.
Georgia, on the other hand, has a state income tax 1% lower than Maine, 4%. Income tax rates go from 1 to 6%; in Maine they go from 2 to 8.5%. You get the idea. Maine is expensive, other places are less expensive to live. That means less struggle, more disposable income. Higher quality of life.
TABOR is all about spending limits in government. It is NOT about cuts. There are no cuts. Spending increases are even allowed, at 3% per year. Taxes and fees in place are allowed but any future increase of taxes and fees would require a 2/3 majority to pass by any governing body, and a majority of the voters.
TABOR is about limiting spending of Maine's runaway government and increasing citizen input on future increases to spending. It's your money they are spending, after all. And that is something that Maine government forgets. It's not their government, and it's not their money. If I was still in Maine, I would vote for TABOR. It makes sense.