A conservative think tank in Portland says it is pleased with Maine ending the fiscal year on a positive note.
Maine Public Radio reported that the state closed the budget year in June with revenues that were $14 million above expectations and a surplus for the year of about $30 million.
The Maine Heritage Policy Center praised the “higher than expected” revenues generated and advocated for the money to be returned to taxpayers “in the form of meaningful tax rate reductions.”
“Unfortunately, much of this funding has been earmarked for other, less important purposes,” Jacob Posik, the director of communications at the MHPC, told The Center Square.
The money is required by law to be apportioned to various state programs. Finance Commissioner Kirsten Figueroa told MPR that most of the surplus is divided into two funds: the “rainy-day” fund and the property tax relief fund. Eighty percent of the money will go toward the former.
“Maine must improve its economic condition to remain competitive and attract talented workers and job creators to our state,” Posik said. “Lawmakers missed out on a prime opportunity to cut taxes this session when they approved a biennial budget that appropriated nearly all surplus and projected revenues over the next two years without providing any meaningful tax relief to taxpayers.”
When asked as to whether the surplus can be replicated, Posik replied, “Yes and no.”
“Some of the surplus comes from higher-than-expected revenue collections, which can be repeated provided that the economy continues to improve,” he said. “Another chunk of the surplus comes from the state not spending money it had appropriated for various programs and services in the last fiscal year.”
Posik added that property taxpayers could likely receive $100 from the newly established property tax relief fund when it has built up enough to make disbursements.
“But these savings aren’t nearly as meaningful to taxpayers as the income tax rate reductions that lawmakers refused to pass in the first session,” he said.