The GOV candidates "have said they don't want to raise taxes" but "most said it was irresponsible to take a tax pledge." When "asked how they planned to keep state taxes low without pushing the burden to property taxes, many of the candidates talked about scrutinizing state government to find waste and inefficiencies."
But "whether or not such a review will find enough savings to prevent tax increases is unknown" and the state's "roads and bridges ranked 32nd in a recent national survey, its rural roads 47th." And "a conservative think tank" recently estimated that "about 12.5 percent of Mainers' personal income is diverted to state and local taxes" which is "the sixth highest percentage in the country."
Atty/ex-OMB Assoc. Dir. for Natural Resources, Energy and Science/Jimmy Carter ex-aide Eliot Cutler (I), on taxes: "I don't take tax pledges. I don't make promises I can't keep. ... We have to squeeze the living bejesus out of what we spend. People are not going to pay attention to a discussion about tax reform until people have confidence in government's ability to control spending."
Cutler "said the state desperately needs to reform its tax structure" but "before it does that, it has to get spending under control."
'84 SEN nominee/'90 ME-01 candidate/state Senate Pres./ex-state House Speaker Libby Mitchell (D): "(I have) no plans to raise taxes."
Mitchell plans "to get the most out of every tax dollar collected" and "believes the state must become more efficient. However, she expressed skepticism about consolidating state agencies."
Waterville Mayor Paul LePage (R) "has vowed to lower the state's 'excessive tax burden' first by conducting a top-to-bottom review of state government to detect 'waste, fraud and abuse.'" and "said he will institute what he calls 'zero-based' budgeting, essentially building the next biennial budget from scratch rather than tweaking the current spending plan."
Opponents "claim LePage's tax reduction plans are political pandering." Cutler "recently attacked" his plan, "saying it would nearly triple the size of the" $800M "state budget shortfall already awaiting the next governor" (Mistler, Lewiston Sun Journal, 10/14).
At a 10/13 forum, the GOV candidates discussed "all things municipal" from "consolidation to transportation." The candidates "shared their views on the future of relations between the state and local cities and towns."
Mitchell "emphasized the nine years she spent as a Vassalboro selectwoman" and "she said the state needs another 'robust' bond package to pay for needed repairs" on ME's roads. Cutler "said Mainers already pay a 'hidden tax' because deteriorating roads force many people to pay hundreds of dollars for car repairs" and "said tourism is also affected negatively by bad roads."
Cutler: "Right now, at the pace we're proceeding, we will rebuild Maine roads once every 200 years."
Cutler "said Mainers need to consider borrowing money, a higher gas tax, a vehicle-per-mile fee or tolls to generate the money needed to keep up with road maintenance" (Covers, Central Maine Morning Sentinel, 10/14).
You Drive Me Crazy
ME Dems "filed an ethics complaint against" LePage 10/13 "alleging he failed to properly report his use of a company car for his campaign." Dems alleged that "because LePage uses a company car on the campaign trail, he should list it as" an in-kind donation "on his campaign finance reports." Dems also allege that "because LePage received about $758 in mileage reimbursement from his campaign for travel," the borrowed car "exceeded the maximum campaign contribution limit of $750."
ME Dems, in a release: "Mr. LePage's car has been part of his compensation package which includes personal use. Mr. LePage pays taxes on that personal use and is responsible for fuel expenses for that personal use. Any and all limited travel in relation to this particular car and the campaign is handled by Mr. LePage personally as per company policy and following the letter of the law.
LePage's camp "said the complaint is politically motivated and that his use of the car has been documented appropriately" (Metzler, Central Maine Morning Sentinel, 10/14).
Honk If You Hate Cutler
A consultant for auto body repair center owner Shawn Moody (I) "has been questioned" over "a website critical" of Cutler. Consultant Dennis Bailey "is being questioned in connection with the website" but "denies any knowledge of the site's creator."
Cutler "asked the ethics commission to investigate the site to see if it violates state campaign finance laws" (AP, 10/14).