Having some of the highest local and state tax burdens in the country, Maine is clearly overdue for tax reform. However, the tax break proposed to state voters on the November ballot?better known as the "Palesky tax cap"?is indisputably the wrong approach. By capping state property taxes at one percent of the assessed property value, the measure would place unacceptable limits on services essential to the growth and prosperity of both the Brunswick and Bowdoin communities.
If the one percent cap on property taxes were to pass, Brunswick would be forced to drastically cut funding for education and public safety, adversely affecting the quality of life for its residents. The College would inevitably feel the effects: the lower the standard of public services in Brunswick, the harder it would be for Bowdoin to draw talented faculty and staff to the campus. Cuts in education funding throughout Maine would also put the state's high school students?who traditionally make up a sizeable percentage of students here?at a competitive disadvantage in the college admissions process.
Budget cuts that risk compromising the safety of our community are an unnecessary and dangerous sacrifice for the sake of tax reform. The aphorism that "all politics is local" has never been more appropriate: the tax cap initiative supposes that all Maine communities have an equal demand for services and programs. The truth is that each community is different, and must meet its needs in its own unique way.
Decreasing the local tax burden would likely attract new business to the state as advocates suggest, but growth should not occur at the expense of the more essential services on the chopping block, namely education. Maine's students are also an important ingredient to an expanding economy.
Despite its laudable goal of decreasing the tax burden on Maine families, the tax cap's draconian methods would prove disastrous for the state's communities. The relief to individual households would not outweigh the harm done to the state as a whole.