90,000 people can't be all wrong

By Tony Payne | Jul 17, 2008

Augusta — Editor's note: The following member blog is reprinted exactly as it was posted on knox.villagesoup.com and has not been edited.

Below is a news release distributed this week by FED UP WITH TAXES. Despite highly organized opposition that attempted to suppress voter participation, citizens throughout the state have demanded the right to repeal the beverage and health care claims taxes imposed by a majority of the Maine Legislature in the middle of the night and without a public hearing.

This tax increase was sponsored by Rep. Hannah Pingree of North Haven (hannah@pingree.com) who hopes to be the next Speaker of the House and co-sponsored by Sen. Libby Mitchell of Vassalboro (senlibby.mitchell@legislature.maine.gov) who hopes to be the next President of the Maine Senate. It would be helpful for them to hear from you regarding your feelings about this tax increase.

Here's the roll call of how all legislators voted on the bill to increase taxes by more than $70 million.

Congratulations to the volunteers and organizers of FED UP WITH TAXES and thanks to all who signed or hoped to sign this citizen repeal effort.

July 15, 2008

FED UP WITH TAXES FILES MORE THAN
90,000 SIGNATURES FOR PEOPLE'S VETO

Campaign Urging "YES" Vote on November 4th Underway

AUGUSTA, Maine -The Fed Up with Taxes Coalition today filed more than enough signatures with the Secretary of State to force a statewide vote this fall on $75 million of new taxes on beverages and health care claims, despite a well-financed campaign urging Maine people not to sign their petitions.

"Maine people now get to have the final say on these new taxes," said Newell Augur, Chairman of Fed Up With Taxes, a bipartisan coalition of Maine people, businesses and organizations that is leading the effort to repeal the taxes. "Voters from all over the state eagerly signed our petitions because Maine families are struggling in this difficult economy. This is absolutely the worst time to be raising taxes on beverages, health care or anything else."

Augur said that his group filed petitions containing more than 90,000 signatures with the Secretary of State, two days before the July 17 deadline. More than 80% of the signatures have been validated by municipal clerks. The signatures now will be reviewed by the Secretary of State's office. Even if some of the signatures are rejected by the Secretary for technical reasons, as is usually the case, Fed Up With Taxes has provided far more than the 55,087 signatures necessary to put the issue to a statewide vote in November.

The new taxes, passed late at night in the closing days of the last legislative session without any public hearing, increase the price of beer, wine, flavored water, teas, sports drinks, juices, colas and diet colas, and a host of other beverages, and add a new 1.8% tax on health insurance claims.

"With more than 90,000 signatures collected in less than 60 days, it's clear that Mainers are angry about these taxes, upset about the way they were passed, and are ready to join us in voting YES on November 4th", said Augur. "A majority of legislators thought they could slip this one by the voters in the middle of the night. Thanks to the success of the signature gathering effort, we now will have a chance to debate these taxes in the light of day. We are confident that Maine people will reject them soundly."

He added that the petition drive - conducted by both volunteers and a professional signature gathering firm - faced an unprecedented attempt to keep voters from signing. Supporters of the new taxes flooded the state with automated phone calls, direct mail and other communications in recent weeks urging people not to sign the people's veto petition. Their financial backing came almost exclusively from millionaire hedge fund owner S. Donald Sussman.

"Our filing today is not just a victory for the people of Maine, it also represents a major defeat for the politicians and special interests who desperately tried to convince Maine people that raising our taxes even higher is a good thing," said Augur. "We can certainly expect more of that as we head into November, but Maine people just aren't buying it this time."

Augur said that the Fed Up With Taxes coalition has already begun planning for the fall "YES" campaign. He also offered special thanks to the many municipal clerks around the state who had to verify the petition signatures before they could be turned in to the Secretary of State. "We know that clerks and their staffs had a lot of work to do in reviewing the signatures so that we could file this week. We appreciate their efforts."


A call to engage

Here's a contact list of candidates for all Maine State Senate and House seats. A few seats are currently vacant and one primary has yet to be decided. Find yours and drop them an e-mail. Get the answers you need in order to make an informed decision. Also, start a dialogue with these candidates as one will be your next senator and another, your state representative.

Please, pass this along to your friends, family, co-workers, vendors and customers and ask them to do the same. You can make a difference! Thanks!

Tony Payne
Executive Director
tpayne@allianceformaine.org
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