Recent Stories

Tax law allows billions in business property taxes to be diverted from paying for local services and schools


Put an addition on your house, and the town assessor will come around, increase the value of your house and your property taxes will go up. Get a TIF, and you, too, have to pay taxes on that new warehouse or factory – but the taxes don’t help pay for the schools, plowing and cops. Continue Reading →

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Newfound wealth allows Rep. Pingree to pay her ‘dues’ to House Democrats

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree

From 1994 to mid-2011, Chellie Pingree’s total contributions to candidates running for national office were $2,950.

But from June 2011 to last November — a period of only 17 months — the Democratic congresswoman from Maine’s first district donated $105,600 to Democratic candidates to Congress and to the party committees that funnel donations to candidates.
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Criticism of tax breaks growing in legislature

AUGUSTA – Over the past 50 years, Maine legislatures and governors have added millions of dollars in tax breaks for businesses without ever doing the detailed analysis to find out which are effective and which are wasteful.

But now that may be changing. Continue Reading →

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“Best Investigative Reporting on US Guns You Might Have Missed” includes Center’s gun subsidies story

The Investigative Fund, a project of the Nation Institute, has included the Center's story on gun subsidies, "States have subsidized makers of assault rifles to tune of $19 million," on their list of six stories that constitute the "Best Investigative Reporting on US Guns You Might Have Missed." We're proud to join our investigative reporting colleagues at Mother Jones, The Tampa Bay Times, The Chicago Reporter and City Limits on the Nation Institute's list. You can see the entire list here. Continue Reading →

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Millett on business tax breaks: Expects legislators to question whether “such programs should remain intact”

Last week, the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting published a story headlined, "Risky business tax breaks cost state $100 million per year." At the time of publication, we had not yet received a response from the state chief budget officer, Sawin Millett, the commissioner of administration and finance. A response has since been sent to us, via email. Here is our question and his answer:

MCPIR question: Given the 2006 OPEGA study of 46 economic development programs (including related ”tax expenditure” data) rated some of those programs as “high risk,” why is the Governor continuing those programs? 

Millett: Quite simply, three Committees of the Legislature reviewed the OPEGA report over the 2007-2008 biennium and took no action to modify or eliminate those programs – with the single exception you have referenced – thus those programs have remained in statute. It is my personal expectation, however, that there will likely be specific proposals advanced, and considerable discussion had, during the current Session as to whether all such programs should remain intact, going forward. Continue Reading →

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Ethics getting statehouse attention, prompted by ‘F’ in national study

Michael Cianchette, delivering testimony on behalf of Gov. LePage

If you’re paid to regulate widgets for the state of Maine, then you shouldn’t be able to take a new job working for widget makers.

That’s what Ann Luther, board member of the League of Women Voters of Maine, told legislators on the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee Wednesday in a hearing on a bill that would stop the so-called “revolving door.” The bill would make it unlawful for executive branch officials to leave their state job and go directly to work for an industry they regulated.
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