Time for the Legislature to repeal the 3 percent tax surcharge is running out. If it is not repealed, Maine could face an economic tsunami from which we may not recover.

Raising taxes on high-income earners and small businesses, to one of the highest rates in the country, can have a devastating impact on a state economy. For proof, just look to Connecticut.

In 2015, that state increased its income tax rate on high-income earners. The result? Across-the-board cuts in state government and schools, state income tax revenue is down almost $1.5 billion, and it has lost 3 percent of its population — nearly 30,000 people — almost all of whom are retirees and younger workers who left Connecticut in droves.

General Electric even left Connecticut for Massachusetts, which has a top marginal rate of 5.1 percent – less than half of Maine’s. Massachusetts funds its schools at a higher rate than Maine, and has the No. 1-rated schools in America.

If Maine’s Legislature does not act on lowering the 10.15 percent tax rate — which is 3.16 percentage points higher than Connecticut’s — what will Maine’s economy look like in five years? How many employers and taxpayers will have left Maine for states with lower taxes? With Maine being the oldest state in the country, we cannot afford any population loss, let alone 3 percent of our people.

It doesn’t take an economist to see who is succeeding and why. We need to take Connecticut’s lesson to heart and repeal the 3 percent tax while upholding the spirit of the voters’ voice and increasing funding for education. It can be done with the right amount of political will. The future of a healthy Maine economy truly depends on the Legislature finding this will now. Our citizens cannot afford to wait.

Dana Connors

president Maine State Chamber of Commerce


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