Threat from Maine Republicans to blow up budget could explode in their face
Republicans in the Maine legislature seem poised to blow up the supplementary estimates. If they do, they’ll accomplish something progressives couldn’t: prevent big, profitable companies from getting a massive tax cut.
If they really want to push the piston on that detonator, Democrats should let them.
The negotiations in Augusta ended in a fundamental disagreement, like so many budgets recently, between Democrats who believe in good government and Republicans who see it as their mission to obstruct the core functions of state.
Democrats in the legislature bent over backwards to strike a deal on the legislation, which makes adjustments to the last year of the state’s current budget. Not only did they include a compromise measure from Governor Janet Mills granting additional corporate income tax relief to companies that received federal P3 loans, but they expanded it.
Mills had proposed to cap this giveaway at $ 1 million in corporate profits, but Republicans opposed and Democrats lifted the cap, adding $ 20 million to the cost to benefit a few large corporations. .
Democrats got far fewer of their own priorities in the plan, including a tax credit for Mainers receiving unemployment benefits during the pandemic, which Republicans also quickly approved (this is, after all, a reduction tax).
But Republicans are still not happy. They want more. As the Bangor Daily News Put the, they are “to hold[ing] in an effort to extend further tax breaks to businesses and pass a provision that would require two-thirds approval on any federal aid spending plan. “
The veto on pandemic-related spending is essentially a demand that Democrats give them the tools to continue their obstruction.
The additional tax breaks for companies they ask, $ 32 million in all, were accurately summarized by BJ McCollister, Chief of Staff to President of the Senate Troy Jackson, as “incentives for foreign investment abroad” and “tax breaks for wealthy elites for three martini lunches.”
If they’re prepared to sink the budget and the tax breaks they’ve already negotiated for business, on those kinds of freebies to the rich and big business, Democrats should let them.
Not making an additional two-thirds budget agreement, qualified majority support would not be the end of the world. In fact, it would give legislators the time and space to address the issues debated here in a more comprehensive and rational manner in the next biennial budget. They could adopt support for small businesses that does not favor big and rich companies and support for struggling Mainers not only by the number of unemployment they have received.
Some of the changes for the current budget could even be passed by the Democratic majority in a non-urgent bill.
Having already given up so much, Democratic leaders should continue to hold that last line. To do otherwise would be to reward minority Republicans for their obstruction and encourage them to use those same tactics in the future, while handing them the keys to the State House for the next two years.
Photo: The Maine Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee meets via Zoom.