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February 9, 2017

Businesses rally against 3% tax surcharge

Representatives from a statewide, bipartisan coalition of Maine businesses held a press conference Thursday urging legislators to repeal the recently passed 3% tax surcharge on incomes exceeding $200,000, also known as Question 2.

The 3% surcharge on families and businesses earning more than $200,000 annually was approved by referendum in November. Revenue from the surcharge will be earmarked to fund public education from kindergarten through grade 12.

Calling themselves the "Keep Maine Competitive" coalition led by the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, businesses on Thursday urged state legislators to scrap the surcharge.

"We're here today to support the need for funding for education to support our workforce, but we do not support the method under which the dollars are derived. We are totally against the 3%," Dana Connors, president of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, told a group of 50 people gathered in downtown Portland despite a snowstorm.

The surcharge puts Maine's income tax rate at 10.15%, the second highest in the country,

Giovani Twigge, chief human resources officer at IDEXX Laboratories Inc., which employs over 2,500 people in Westbrook, said his company fully supports strong schools but not the new surcharge, which the state's fiscal analysis of Question 2 indicated would create about $142 million of additional annual funding for education.

"This tax will add yet another reason for talent in Maine to leave the state of Maine for opportunities outside," he said. "This tax will exacerbate the challenges we already face for bringing talent into the state. This tax sends a strong signal that innovation and entrepreneurship is punished, the successes thereof is not rewarded."

Peter Anastos, co-founder and principal of the Maine Course Hospitality Group, added: "We want to have good schools for our children, but we also want to have jobs for them, and we want to work with the Legislature to get that done."

A group opposed to the results had asked for a recount, but later its request citing costs and slim chances of success.

The Maine State Chamber of Commerce, founded in 1889, is based in Augusta. It represents some 5,000 companies.

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