AUGUSTA — Gov. Paul LePage promised again Monday to veto any state budget passed by the Legislature that does not mitigate a 3 percent state income tax surcharge approved by voters in November.

The surcharge on household incomes over $200,000 is aimed at boosting public school funding and gives Maine the nation’s second-highest marginal state income tax rate.

“Nobody can tell me, can come down to me and say this is appropriate for the state of Maine,” LePage said during a State House news conference Monday morning, hours before a scheduled town hall meeting in Fort Kent.

LePage told reporters that even his own son, Paul LePage II, was leaving Maine for higher wages and lower taxes in Florida. LePage’s son will be going to work for the University of Miami Health System in Miami in its accounting and finance department, according to LePage spokesman Peter Steele.

Supporters of the surcharge said the issue has been settled by voters. Rep. Drew Gattine, D-Westbrook, the House chairman of the budget-writing Appropriations Committee, tweeted: “Gov. ran hard against Question 2 last fall. Maine people rejected him then. There’s no reason to think they’ve changed their mind.”

The ballot measure passed with 50.63 percent of the vote – 383,428 votes in support and 373,848 in opposition. About 88,000 more people supported the surcharge increase than voted for LePage’s re-election in 2014.


LePage said his son got a new job that pays $30,000 more a year than he currently makes, but because there are no income taxes in Florida, his son will end up with $40,000 more income after the move. The governor and his wife, Ann, also own a home in Ormond Beach, Florida.

“My son is leaving this week,” LePage said. “It’s really heartbreaking for his mum and I. He’s got to look after himself. He’s got to look after his future. He wants to have a family. He wants to have a home. He wants to be able to grow his net worth. So as heartbreaking as it is to see him leave, it’s a great thing for him. You can’t be critical of people wanting to better themselves.”

In his seventh year as governor, LePage said he intends to campaign steadily against the surcharge in the weeks ahead. He voiced frustration that he wouldn’t get much support from the Legislature, even from his Republican allies. LePage predicted that Republicans would cave under the pressure of state budget negotiations, which could lead to a partial state government shutdown if unsuccessful.

LePage said it was mainly Democratic lawmakers who are unwilling to unravel the results of the narrowly approved ballot question and that he intended to continue to bring the issue directly to voters at town hall meetings and other engagements, including speaking before Rotary and Kiwanis clubs and other venues. LePage said he had at least a dozen speaking appearances scheduled for May, and that efforts to reform welfare were successful only after residents began to pressure lawmakers on the subject.

“I went to the public with welfare reform, after the Legislature ignored me for four years,” LePage said. “When I figured out that if you talk to the people, they will put pressure on and get it done.”

LePage said he was hoping for similar results on the surcharge, which he said most voters did not fully understand.


Lawmakers are currently working through LePage’s final two-year budget proposal, which would lower the state’s income tax rate to 5.75 percent by 2020. LePage offsets the revenue lost from the income tax with an increase and broadening of the state sales tax. LePage has long argued the state should eliminate its income tax and push more state finances onto the sales tax. He said Monday that there were only about 800,000 Mainers who pay state income taxes but there are nearly 50 million people, including visitors to Maine, who pay sales taxes.

With the surcharge, the state’s top marginal rate sits at 10.15 percent. Only California has a higher state income tax rate at 13.3 percent, but that rate is applied only to households earning more than $1 million a year.

Monday’s press conference was the third in two weeks for LePage – who has made himself available to the news media only infrequently.

However, he said his increased public focus on taxes and energy costs was not an effort to campaign for another office as his current term winds down. LePage has repeatedly said he may run for the U.S. Senate in 2018 against incumbent Sen. Angus King, an independent.

“I will tell you something, folks,” LePage said. “I absolutely despise the field of politics. I despise it, probably more so than Dwight Eisenhower. He was not a big fan and I’m not. I really think that petty parochial politics is a blood sport and it should be outlawed. It’s just horrible.”


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