FILE - Maine Gov. Janet Mills

Maine Gov. Janet Mills

While the Maine legislature concluded its session in July satisfied that it provided some relief to taxpayers, a Portland-based free-market think tank says residents may not reap much of the benefits.

Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, signed the two-year state budget into law, confident “we provided more property tax relief to hard-working Mainers.” The Maine Heritage Policy Center, however, argued that “relief is simply that – relief.”

“Relief does not translate to meaningful tax reductions, but rather slows the rate of growth of tax collections from local taxpayers,” Jacob Posik, the director of communications at the MHPC, told The Center Square. “Lawmakers shouldn’t be focused merely on relief, they should be searching for ways to provide meaningful tax reductions to Maine taxpayers.”

According to Mills, as Maine Public Radio reported, the aforementioned relief will come in the form of increased state funding for schools and a boost in state revenue sharing.

The MHPC is concerned that “property taxpayers will [not] realize any meaningful reduction.”

“It should also be noted that there is no specific language that requires municipalities to reduce property tax collections as a result of increased state funding for education and revenue sharing,” Posik said.

A study was conducted by the MHPC which concluded that tax dollars are never used to lower property taxes.

Posik suggested that “responsible fiscal management of our schools will provide the most relief to property taxpayers in Maine.”

“Throwing more state money at the problem is not a real solution,” he said.

As for the budget, the organization said it added more to state spending.

“We are not happy with the budget,” Posik said. “It grows state spending by roughly $800 million, or 11 percent over the last budget, and spends almost all surplus and projected revenues over the biennium without returning any of these excess funds to Maine taxpayers. It also comes with mandates that will impose new costs on municipalities when state funding ceases, including a minimum teacher salary and universal pre-K. This budget was fiscally irresponsible and provides little cushion for the state of Maine in the event of an economic downturn.”