AUGUSTA — About 60 conservative activists, Maine Republican Party members and former state and federal elected officials rallied at the State House on Monday to highlight Maine’s tax burden on the day income taxes were due in most of the U.S.

“We have liberal politicians who think that your money, the money you pay in taxes, is their money,” former 2nd District U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin said. “And that’s why they have so much fun spending it and wasting it.”

Those speaking included Maine Republican Party Vice Chairman Nick Isgro, who is also the mayor of Waterville, former state Sen. Eric Brakey of Auburn and former state Reps Heather Sirocki of Scarborough and Paula Sutton of Warren. Also addressing the gathering were speakers from the conservative-leaning think tank the Maine Heritage Policy Center.

Brakey likened state and federal officials to pirates plundering treasure from hardworking taxpayers. He and Isgro also challenged spending any public funds on asylum-seeking immigrants, as proposed in some Democratic legislation.

Jacob Posik, communications director for the Maine Heritage Policy Center, said Democratic Gov. Janet Mills may not be raising taxes now, but he contended she would have no way to sustain her proposed $8 billion state budget after the next two-year budget cycle ends.

Posik charged Mills with already dipping twice into the state’s “rainy day” fund, also known at the budget stabilization fund, in order to cover state expenses.

“She may have kept good on her promise not to increase taxes in this first (budget) proposal but what we know is that what’s coming down the road is major tax increases and extensive use of the budget stabilization fund,” Posik said. “Her budget, her $8 billion budget, represents an 11 percent increase in spending over the next two years. That far exceeds the rate of inflation and it far exceeds the rate of personal income growth in the state of Maine, which means in two years, when we are building the next budget on this baseline we are going to be growing spending over levels the Maine taxpayers already cannot afford.”

Mills and her staff have argued that her budget proposal is sustainable and point out that any spending she has done from the state’s budget stabilization fund was authorized by law in the current state budget, which was passed with bipartisan support in the Legislature and signed by former Republican Gov. Paul LePage.

Mills’ budget proposal also does not include any new tax increases, although there are a handful of bills pending before the Legislature that seek to increase taxes, including one that would allow municipal governments to enact a local option sales tax on goods and services.

Lindsay Crete,  Mills’ press secretary, said recent state revenue forecasts made by independent economists show projected incoming tax revenue will exceed budget expenses by “hundreds of millions” of dollars.

“This budget is sustainable, lives within our means, and delivers what Maine people want — better health care, stronger schools, greater economic opportunity, and no new taxes,” Crete wrote in an email message to the Press Herald. “It is disappointing — but not surprising —that these Republicans are more focused on playing politics than on accomplishing what Maine people want and need.”

Lisa Roberts, executive director of the Maine Democratic Party, issued a statement saying, “It’s rich the Maine Republican Party is trotting out the same politicians Maine people rejected to have them criticize Democrats for the policies Maine people elected us to implement.”

Maine’s lowest state income tax bracket of 5.8 percent is still greater than the average of the highest tax brackets in New England and among all states, according to Julie Rabinowitz, a former spokeswoman for LePage, who worked to cut state income taxes during his eight years in office.

Rabinowitz, who’s now director of policy and communication for Maine People Before Politics, said that instead of using any surplus funds as part of the state budget, the money should be rebated back to taxpayers. She said that under the current state budget surplus every person in the state, not just taxpayers, could be paid a rebate of about $150.

Isgro, criticized, Democrats on immigration policy and proposed legislation allowing female Medicaid patients access to abortion services and a bill that would allow terminally ill patients to end their own lives with a lethal dose of prescription medication under certain circumstances.

“They want your money to pay for the murder of babies and they are now pushing for elderly suicide,” Isgro said. “This is a culture of death, this is a program of decline.” Isgro has faced harsh criticism for his anti-immigrant stance  including from key Republican leaders in the Legislature.

Scott Thistle can be contacted at 791-6330 or at:

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