AUGUSTA — The Presiding Officers of the Maine Legislature on Wednesday announced the members of a commission charged with finding $40 million in savings from the state’s $1 billion in tax breaks, exemptions, and credits. The commission will hold its first meeting later this month.
“The task force will be putting the state’s off-the-books exemptions and tax breaks under the same microscope as all state spending,” said Speaker of the House Mark Eves, D-North Berwick. “Working Maine families can’t afford to foot the bill for tax breaks that simply aren’t working.”
The Tax Expenditure Review Task Force was created as part of the state budget and includes lawmakers, economists, tax experts, and business representatives. If the task force is unable to find $40 million in savings, further cuts to town revenue sharing will be triggered.
“All of our efforts, from our tax code to our policy making, need to be focused on strengthening our economy and growing jobs,” said Senate President Justin Alfond, D-Portland. “It makes good sense that the committee take this opportunity to look at what’s working and what’s not and align our tax incentives to our economy.”
Members of the task force include: the chairs of the Legislature’s Taxation Committee Senator Anne Haskell and Rep. Adam Goode, Commissioner of the Department of Administrative and Financial Services SawinMillett, Garrett Martin of the Maine Center for Economic Policy, Catherine Lee of Lee International, and Ryan Low, former commissioner of the Department of Administrative and Financial Services. [Full list below].
“There has been considerable interest from legislators who are concerned about these expenditures. We need to make sure that these tax breaks are still strengthening our economy, as they were intended to do,” said Assistant Senate Majority Leader Anne Haskell, D-Portland, the Senate Chair of the Taxation Committee and the Task Force.
The panel will also be asked to develop a regular evaluation process to determine how well the tax expenditures are working. In a 2012 review of state policies, the Pew Charitable Trusts labeled Maine one of 25 states “trailing behind” in terms of regularly measuring the economic impact of different tax incentives and using that information to inform policy decisions.
“All year we have heard local communities and working families expressing concern about increasing property taxes,” said Rep. Adam Goode, who serves as the House chair of the Taxation Committee. “This task force will prevent further cuts to municipal revenue sharing through savings within our tax expenditure system. It is unfair that special interests receive special tax breaks while working families are hit with rising property taxes.”
The Commission will meet six times and report back to lawmakers on December 4. The first meeting will be held on Sept. 16 at 9 a.m. in Room 127 at the State House.
Tax Expenditure Review Task Force
Goode, Adam (Chair), House Member
Haskell, Anne (Chair), Senate Member
Katz, Roger Senate Member
Marean, Donald, House Member
Allen, Michael Commissioner’s designee
Millett, Sawin Commissioner of DAFS
Lawton, Charles, Representing economists, tax experts or business sector
Lee, Catherine, Representing a business enterprise
Martin, Garrett, Representing economists, tax experts or business sector
Miller, Elizabeth, Public Member
Barter, Merrill Representing economists, tax experts or business sector
Baur, Geoff Representing economists, tax experts or business sector
Durgin, Nelson Person with expertise in state budget process
Low, Ryan Person with expertise in state budget process