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GARLAND -- Almost three decades after leading the signature collection for a citizen initiative which repealed Maine's state property tax, Mary Adams of Garland has announced the formation of a political action committee (PAC) in preparation for another statewide volunteer effort. This time, to put a Taxpayer Bill of Rights before the voters in referendum next year.
The Colorado-styled proposal drafted by the Maine Heritage Policy Center in Portland is making its way through the Secretary of State's office now and should be getting the nod of approval any day, according to Adams.
"With this Maine TABOR (the nickname for the Taxpayer Bill of Rights) we will have the advantage of Colorado's experience. The drafters of the Maine proposal were able to use Colorado's 20/20 hindsight when drafting this one."
Adams says of the bill:
It limits the growth of government spending at all levels of government (state, county, municipal, and school district) to the annual rate of inflation + population growth
It requires a vote of the taxpayers to approve any tax or fee increases
In the event that revenue exceeds allowable expenditures, it puts the excess money in the following two funds: 20% in a budget stabilization fund that would be used in economic downturns, and 80% in a taxpayer relief fund that would be used to refund money to taxpayers. In Colorado, over $3.2 billion was returned to Colorado taxpayers in the last decade.
"People love it because it's a firm, fair, discipline which can turn this state around if it becomes a ballot question and is enacted. It will indicate to the outside world that Maine is serious about turning its high tax burden and out-of-control spending around and that we mean business."
"Because it makes government ask voters if they want a raise in taxes and fees, I say that it puts a bit in the mouth of government and gives the reins to the taxpayers of the state."
"Who knows? If the legislature and governor smarten up, this could be the beginning of getting a Taxpayer Bill of Rights into the Maine Constitution. For now, though, the only kind of proposal we as citizens can initiate goes only into the Maine statutes."
"We are aiming to collect 60,000 signatures on November 2nd at the polls statewide. We need a lot of help to do that. I'm asking everyone who cares about the future of Maine to sign up. The Libertarian Party of Maine has already endorsed the effort, as have several Republican leaders. This is a non-partisan effort and everybody is welcome. Volunteers can call me at 207-924-3835, or drop me a post card at P O Box 10, Garland ME 04939, or sign up on the website, www.taxpayerbillofrights.com"
The political action committee, taxpayerbillofrights.com, is named for the petition drive's recently-created website. Donations can be sent to Treasurer, Brian Parke, at P O Box 5271, Augusta ME 04332-5271. Checks should be made out to "taxpayerbillofrights.com.
Says Adams, "This is such an exciting and uplifting petition drive. I'm thrilled to be part of it. I'm telling people that since we all missed the Revolution over two centuries ago, we can take part in this one. There's nothing more important to Maine right now than building in some fiscal restraints so that we can be on our way to a healthy economy and happier taxpayers. We can do that with the Taxpayer Bill of Rights."
Adams says, "I've just heard that Governor Bill Owens will be speaking in Maine as a guest of the Maine Heritage Policy Center on October 25th. Governor Owens is very excited that Maine is following his state's example with its own Taxpayer Bill of Rights and I expect he'll highlight this grassroots petition drive when he gets up here."