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Maine Business Owners Divided on Tax Reform Repeal
05/19/2010 11:23 AM ET  

Business owners disagree on whether the tax reform measure enacted last year discourages or encourages economic development.

Question one on next month's ballot is pitting business against business. The question offers voters a chance to "veto" a tax reform bill passed by the Legislature and signed last year by Gov. John Baldacci. The measure cuts the income tax rate for nearly all Mainers by two percent. That's something that Wick Johnson, owner of Kennebec Technologies, likes.

"You can't have economic development in a climate that totally discourages economic development," Johnson says. "Nobody in their right mind who expects to be a high income person would start a business in Maine at this point in time."

But in order to keep state revenues level, the measure expands the sales tax and raises the meals-and-lodging tax. And that's something that Curtis Pickard of the Maine Merchants Association doesn't like.

"I don't like short little sound bites," he says. "I don't like having to go out there and say '100 new taxes,' but that's what you have to do to get the message across to get people to pay attention that their industry is likely on that list."

Maine Revenue Services says 95 percent of Mainers will pay less tax under the reform measure, with the sales and meals-and-lodging tax changes forcing out-of-state visitors to pick up tens of millions of dollars of that cost.


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