Letter to Editor: “Scam” claim is warranted



To the Editor:

On behalf of the No on One Campaign, we appreciate that this paper noted the serious flaws in Question One. This new tax on families making more than $128,400 will deter young professionals from settling in Maine and give us the highest income tax rate in the country. Moreover, Question One will burden our small businesses, who are the backbone of our economy, with a tax rate of nearly 11-25 percent higher than what corporations pay. As you noted, it fails to “stand up to scrutiny.”

Nevertheless, you were critical of our use of the term “scam” in describing how the proponents have tried to sell this referendum to Maine voters. Please be assured we do not use this term lightly. You defined a “scam” as a “scheme whose presentation is deliberately dishonest.” For the benefit of your readers, here are several examples that justify the use of this term.

Maine Revenue Services, the Secretary of State and the Maine Association of Certified Public Accountants have all independently concluded that Question One will tax families making more than $128,400 per year. Married couples where neither spouse makes more than $128,400 — but together they make above it — would be hit.

Undeterred, the proponents claim it’s only a tax on individuals making over that amount. They took a document developed by the Office of Fiscal and Program Review (OFPR), the nonpartisan office that reviews the financial impact of all legislation, and twisted its wording to support their erroneous claim.

Earlier this week, OFPR was compelled to release a statement saying that the proponents’ interpretation was incorrect. The office concluded — as everyone else has — that the tax is on families making more than $128,400.

Yet, the proponents continue to misrepresent its impact.

The $310 million generated by this tax will be run by a nine person board comprised only of persons who are either receiving benefits or money from the program. It will not be overseen, much less administered, by our state legislature or any state agency.

Former Chief Justice of Maine’s highest court, Dan Wathen, has said that Question One presents serious constitutional challenges because of the delegation of state taxation and spending authority without oversight. The proponents’ response: “well, he isn’t wearing robes anymore.”

Question One requires the private health information of every older and disabled adult receiving home care be turned over to an unlimited number of people for purposes of campaigning for election to the board. There is nothing that these elder and disabled adults can do to stop that from happening.

The proponents claim there’s an opt-out provision that protects your privacy. In fact, that’s a lie within a lie. There is an opt-out, but it only prevents you from receiving spam emails and phone calls. Your private health information is still going to be sent to people you don’t know — without your permission.

Even if there was an opt-out provision, federal privacy law does not permit an opt-out with respect to the release of private health information. It requires an affirmative opt-in.  That means they need to get your signature, they need to apprise you of how your private health information will be used, how long it will be used and your rights of revocation.

The proponents have done none of that.

Given the repeated misrepresentations Question One’s supporters have made, especially in the face of reputable sources saying otherwise, we think the term “scam” is accurate — and warranted. We would encourage all Maine voters to look carefully at the language of Question One. We are confident that once they do, they will vote No to “Stop the Scam.”

Newell Augur

Augusta

 

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