Maine Split Over, But in Support Of New Higher-Income tax To Fund Education

education-opportunitysmallWhile there is, overall, a major split along party lines, most residents of Maine appear to favor more taxes on personal incomes in excess of $200,000 to help improve funding for education. This is according to a new poll from Portland Press Herald.

Looking more closely at the poll, it appears that more than 60 percent of those who responded support a November ballot option that would add a $30-per-$1,000-over-$200,000 option to state income taxes. The state estimates that this could generate $157 million in just the first year alone. More importantly, this bump would be focused more on “direct support” for education, furthermore, will be administered by education officials in the state.

Only 32 percent oppose Question 2 on the November ballot while 8 percent remain undecided.

As could probably be expected, support for the measure varied; and these variances were largely based on political party and gender. Roughly 80 percent of Democrats showed support with 15 percent against. Republicans, though, were nearly inverse of Dems, with 37 percent in support and 52 percent against it.

Dissecting the information further, 67 percent of women support Question 2 and 25 percent do not support it. 52 percent of men, on the other hand, support it while 40 percent do not.

Perhaps most significantly, it is important to understand—even more so than how much money it could generate—the measure will effect an estimated 16,000 households throughout the state. On the other hand, only the top 2 percent of Maine residents earn more than $225,000 per year, but they already pay 30 percent of all state income taxes, as explained by the Department of Administration and Financial Services.

The biggest surprise, though, is that while the tax would only affect those who earn the highest incomes in the state, a remarkable number of wealthier respondents in the poll showed support. Among household incomes of $100,000 (or more) at least 60 percent responded in favor of the measure (with 35 percent against). Similarly, in the lowest income bracket (under $30,000) 66 percent showed support, and 22 percent were against.

Standish, ME Republican Cheryl Howard—who supports the measure—comments, “I don’t bedrudge people the money they’ve earned. What bothers me is them paying their fare share. If these rich people are using all these loopholes (to lower their taxes) then maybe we need to take a little bit of that for good programs, like to support education.”

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