A Feb. 25-26 BDN article (“No new taxes? Debate over hikes a mix of politics, semantics”) states: “The tax is indexed to rise with inflation, but [Rep. Jon] McKane points out that Baldacci could have ended the indexing through legislation.” In the next sentence, Gov. Baldacci’s budget officer, Ryan Low, “notes the administration did submit such a bill last year, but it was defeated in the Legislature.”
Most readers would naturally assume that Baldacci wanted to kill the gas tax increase. But readers would not know that such a bill must, by law (PL 2001, Chapter 688), be submitted every year.
The bill in question, LD 131, was presented by the Maine Department of Transportation. At the public hearing last February, DOT Commissioner David A. Cole, a Baldacci appointee, testified against his own department’s bill before the Legislature’s Transportation Committee, of which we are members. In essence, DOT submitted the bill under force of law, and then did its dead-level best to make sure the bill was killed.
Ryan Low would like readers to think that Baldacci, like Horatio at the Bridge, was standing tall for the taxpayers and went down fighting in the Legislature.
In fact, he had no intention of halting the automatic tax indexing. The whole episode was a sham.
Rep. Terry McKenney
Rep. Ron Collins