Governor Supports Teachers and Urges Democrats to do the Same
February 11, 2016
For Immediate Release: Thursday, February 11, 2016
Contact: Adrienne Bennett, Press Secretary, 207-287-2531
AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage is urging teachers to contact Democrats in the Legislature and tell them to support the administration’s tax conformity bill that will provide teachers with tax benefits for school supplies they pay for out of their own pocket.
“Our hardworking and dedicated teachers are already underpaid,” said Governor LePage. “By opposing tax conformity, Democrats are now punishing teachers who pay for school supplies with their own money, students, low-income earners and Maine businesses. Educators, parents and any other Mainers who support our teachers must call or email their Democratic legislators and tell them to vote for permanent tax conformity.”
The tax conformity legislation includes tax credits for teachers, students, low-income earners, small and large businesses and anyone who claims depreciation. The Maine Education Association is spreading false information to its members, claiming the House is stripping out of the tax conformity legislation “a new tax break for large corporations to pay for the additional money for schools.”
“This statement from the MEA is patently false,” said Governor LePage. “They’re raiding the rainy day fund for additional education funding, threatening the stability of the state’s credit rating, and threatening the State’s ability to withstand a future recession. It’s unconscionable a union that is supposed to support educators is actively opposing tax credits for teachers.”
On Thursday, the LePage Administration also released information explaining how conforming Maine’s tax code to the federal Internal Revenue Code will benefit educators:
• Teacher Expense Deduction: The Administration’s proposal would permanently conform Maine to the federal teacher expense deduction, an important tax break to Maine teachers who purchase classroom supplies out of their own pocket. The teacher expense deduction has existed for a number of years and has been utilized by approximately 18,000 primary and secondary education teachers in Maine. The teacher expense deduction allows teachers to deduct up to $250 for classroom related expenses each year.
• Tuition Expense Deduction: Another important tax provision makes higher education more accessible to Maine families. The tuition expense deduction allows Maine families to reduce their taxable income by up to a $4,000 for qualified tuition costs and related expenses. This deduction primarily benefits low- and middle-income taxpayers and is estimated to benefit more than 6,000 Maine families. If the Maine Legislature approves the legislation proposed by the Administration, 2016 will mark the first year the tuition expense deduction is offered to Maine families.
If the tax conformity legislation does not pass, Maine teachers will not be able to claim the expense deduction on their Maine taxes for 2015, 2016 and future years, and Maine families will not be able to deduct qualifying higher education costs through the tuition expense deduction.