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Business Groups Oppose Proposed Tax To Fund Home-Based Care

This fall, Maine voters will be asked to vote on a new tax for those with incomes over $128,000. Money from the tax is intended to pay for a variety of home-based care programs for seniors and others. More than two dozen various business groups are opposing the ballot initiative.

At a news conference Wednesday, different business groups said the proposal violates provisions of both the state and federal constitutions as well as federal labor laws. For example, they say the board that would oversee spending under the proposal does not have adequate public oversight.

Former Maine Supreme Court Chief Justice Dan Wathen did a study of the legal issues raised by the proposal, and he says there are numerous problems.

“In effect, it would result in nine privately-elected persons from within the home health care industry controlling this $310 million project,” Wathen says.

“It over-promises and under-delivers, while at the same time creating chaos to our economy by pushing a tax rate for many to nearly 11 percent,” says Dana Connors, president of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce.

Supporters of the proposal reject these arguments, and say they have researched the constitutional and legal questions surrounding the measure and argue it does not violate any law or constitutional provisions.

“They are going to come at this hard,” says Mike Tipping of Maine People’s Alliance, concerning opponenets of the measure. “They are making a lot of money. They don’t want to pay even a little bit more in taxes.”

Voters will decide the question next November.

Journalist Mal Leary spearheads Maine Public's news coverage of politics and government and is based at the State House.