And now the New Year is underway. It did have a lousy start for us Gator fans; our football team didn't look very good in the Michigan blowout Friday. At least we Red Sox fans learned a long time ago just how to say simply, "Wait 'til next year!'
The political season in Maine is underway once again as the Maine Legislature returns to session Wednesday. Will it make any better progress at improving life in Maine than the 2015 session? I doubt it, but I'd love to begin eating those words rather quickly.
I got a regular newsletter from my House Representative recently which touted that I'd have a little more money to spend this year due to tax cuts which took effect Jan. First. She also said that we'd pay more taxes at food places, like the grocery store. Did you notice this weekend that the cost of your groceries climbed? Virtually everything with few exceptions is now taxed. I won't remember it all, but only such things as bread vegetables, meat, and milk remain exempt.
We also learned that once again the Legislature went against what it said would happen, after a certain period of time, two years, I think, the 5.5% sales tax would revert to 5%. We really never expected that to happen from Day One as the Maine Legislature has never been known to keep it's collective word. "Tell the folks what they want to hear...change it later" seems to be a common theme up there in Augusta. So a lower sales tax isn't leading to more money for us to spend. We never learn, do we?
They also left intact the 8% restaurant food tax and increased the lodging tax to 9%. That, they say, has our tourists paying a "fair share" (don't you just love that phrase?). I'd bet Mainers pay a vastly larger "fair" share of those combined taxes than people "from away."
In return for those tax increases, income tax payers will get a wee cut in the tax rates to appease us. Of course not all Mainers have to pay any income tax in the first place, so that segment of the population gets a higher hit through all the other increases. Even Legislators say we won't notice the income tax cuts until 2017 when we file this year's returns. Is that also when we'll notice the increase in the grocery bag? Oh, that's already happening.
The Inheritance Tax has also been lowered. Now the tax begins at 5 million instead of two million dollars. I suspect there are a whole lot more families like mine who never saw that first two million. Big help that tax change will be for the majority of us.
The news media seems to be doing a fairly good job, but not a completely unbiased one, on explaining the tax changes so I'm not going into the whole lot of them. But telling me we're better off now and the economy will get better hasn't worked, yet. It'll take much more explanation to convince me the piddling decrease in income tax but the raising of 97-million more dollars in sales taxes is anything but the Democrats raising more money to support their socialistic agenda.
There's only one way to lower our taxes and that's to cut spending. It won't happen with our current bunch.
I hope you will follow the actions of your Representatives and Senators through the session. You'll have to decide if we indeed are better off with the crew that's there now than we might be with people who truly will work to make the state better for us. We get a chance to replace them all in November.