Maine Legislature

House Democratic Office

www.housedemocrats.maine.gov

Jan. 24, 2014

Contact: Ann Kim 287-1488, cell: 233-1838

 

 

REP. ROTUNDO:  STATE MUST KEEP ITS FUNDING PROMISE TO COMMUNITIES

Measure protects funds to towns, prevents property tax hikes

 

 

This week, hundreds of Mainers from across the state came to the capitol to deliver a message: preserve state funding for towns and prevent property tax hikes. I want to let you know that we heard you loud and clear. 

 

Good morning. I’m Representative Peggy Rotundo of Lewiston, the House chair of the Legislature’s budget-writing committee.

 

On Wednesday, we heard from local officials, firefighters and police officers about the promise Maine made to local communities more than 40 years ago. Under the practice called revenue sharing, local communities get back a small portion of the sales and income taxes collected by the state.

 

These Mainers – who came from our largest cities to our smallest towns – told us that their communities and property taxpayers are stretched to the brink. From Presque Isle to South Berwick, from Fryeburg to Calais and everywhere in-between, the message was clear.

 

If the state doesn’t keep its promise, communities will face the awful choice of slashing – if not eliminating – services, or asking property taxpayers to pay more. It’s likely that many communities will have to do both.

 

Governor Paul LePage labeled revenue sharing as “welfare” for communities. I – and Mainers across the state – strongly disagree with the governor.

 

Revenue sharing recognizes the contribution of local communities to the state’s overall economy. And it helps communities provide vital services like road maintenance, first responders and schools while keeping property taxes in check for residents and businesses. 

 

The state’s funding promise to towns helps young families, elderly neighbors who want to stay in their homes and working Mainers struggling with tight household budgets and stagnating wages. 

 

These funds for towns help our local Main Street businesses that form the backbone of our economy. It helps communities attract business too.

 

Last session, the governor proposed slashing all these funds to local communities, shifting enormous expenses onto local property taxpayers and the middle class.

 

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle came together. We did not allow him to do this.

 

But these funds for towns remain under threat. That’s why I, along with my co-chair, Senator Dawn Hill of York, have introduced a measure to protect $40 million for local communities. We want to protect Maine’s middle class and small businesses from property tax hikes.

 

One of the local officials who came to the State House this week spoke of her constituents who will be hurt if the state breaks its promise to communities. She talked about the 90-year-old widow who lives in the house where she was born and wants to remain there. She talked about the clammers and fishermen whose families have lived by the water for generations. She talked about the farmers who work the land and keep it out of development and the middle-class families trying to keep up.

 

Democrats and Republicans came together to do the right thing the last time these funds for towns came under attack. We can do it again.

 

Thank you for tuning in. I’m Representative Peggy Rotundo of Lewiston.