AUGUSTA, Maine(NEWS CENTER) - As the Maine Legislature works to create a new, two-year budget, there is increasing talk among lawmakers about raising taxes.
Earlier this week, lawmakers on the Taxation Committee heard proposals about raising income taxes on wealthier Mainers. Today they heard several proposals for raising the tax on hotel and motel rooms, as well as the idea of allowing local option sales taxes to raise more money. Supporters say they want to increase taxes to avoid some of the proposed budget cuts from Governor Paul LePage, including the proposal to eliminate municipal revenue sharing to towns and cities.
Republicans generally are opposing tax increases, although several GOP legislators have said some kind of tax plan may ultimately be part of a budget agreement.
Leaders of the hotel industry told the Taxation Committee that increasing the Lodging Tax - currently at 7% --would hurt their business and could even drive some tourists away from Maine. Supporters of the increase said the most other New England states have higher lodging taxes than Maine.
Committee members say some legislators are looking at proposals for as overall increase in the sales tax, as well as rolling back or eliminating the income tax cuts passed two years ago, scheduled to take effect this year.
Several veteran lawmakers agreed that some kind of tax increase will be the key to an agreement on a new two year budget. That budget needs to be passed and signed by the Governor before the end of June.