Ballot Question 1 has very good intentions. It asks: "Do you want to create the Universal Home Care Program to provide home-based assistance to people with disabilities and senior citizens, regardless of income, funded by a new 3.8 percent tax on individuals and families with Maine wage and adjusted gross income above the amount subject to Social Security taxes, which is $128,400 in 2018?”
Keeping elderly and disabled people in their homes is important and we need to make it affordable to people in need. We also need to assure caregivers are paid adequately.
This ballot measure, however, is the wrong approach. Doing tax policy by referendum is not good policy making. Taxing higher wage earners for specific purposes does not address the larger tax issues we have in our state, namely over dependence on high local property taxes, low sales tax and high income taxes.
Many property owners in the state do not live here year round due to Maine’s high income tax rates. Individuals and businesses who would like to move here choose not to because of our income tax rates. Maine needs more income to address home health care, education and many other needs. However there are other ways to rebalance and increase our tax revenues without increasing the income tax, especially by expanding our sales tax from 5.5% to 6.5%.
If these property owners become year round residents we will have greatly increased revenues from their contributions to our annual income tax revenues. If we increase the sales tax on non-essential items, we will also increase state revenues. By doing this, the state will have more money to pay for a part of education thus reducing our property taxes; will have more money for home health care and the other human service needs that are seriously challenging our state.
Another flaw in this proposal is providing care regardless of income. People who can afford full or partial payment should do so.
Let’s work on developing good tax policy that is fair and that welcomes more full time residents and businesses to our state. I invite you to vote NO ballot initiative 1.
David Jones lives in Camden