Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Maine Public Spending Research Group

The Brunswick Times Record's Victoria Wallack reports on Monday's public gathering hosted by the Maine Public Spending Research Group.

You'd think that, by this point, most would be in agreement that Maine's tax burden needs to go down. Nay nay, said one participant:

The group is devising a set of measurements to help residents better understand public spending, with the goal of moving Maine from the unenviable position as one of the most taxed states in the nation to somewhere in the middle of the pack.

That mission didn't sit well with everyone at the conference in Hallowell, where some said Maine's willingness to take care of it citizens is what makes the state special.

"You say you're nonprofit and nonpartisan. It's too bad you're not non-prejudiced," said Rep. Joe Brannigan, D-Portland, who was on a panel as co-chairman of the Appropriations Committee. Brannigan also runs a social service agency — Shalom House in Portland for people with severe mental illness — and took issue with the group's focus on the state's tax burden.

Of course, since all taxes go through the Appropriations Committee, any diminution of taxes levied will lessen Brannigan's importance and power over his fellow human beings. That's why I think it really doesn't matter whether you have a government controlled by Democrats (as it is in Maine) or Republicans (as it is at the national level). When folks are given the unchecked power of taxation over their fellow citizens, they will inevitably be corrupted by that power, and over time come to believe that they are entitled to that money.

Brannigan's ire was also raised by comparisons between Maine and New Hampshire.

"Why did you choose New Hampshire?" Brannigan asked. "To make us look bad?"

While I have no connection to the Maine Public Spending Research Group, I can assume that they only picked New Hampshire due to the facts that it's a state right next door, it has very similar demographics, and it seems to be doing so much better than our own state. Perhaps Mr. Brannigan feels that comparisons with California or New York would be more appropriate.

It's just another indication that the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights is woefully needed, despite the fact that it's likely unconstitutional.



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