Most local legislators voted Jan. 28 against a bill that would have reduced the state’s motor vehicle excise tax.

The Maine House voted 87-49 to reject LD 195, which would have reduced the basis for taxing vehicles to 90 percent of the manufacturer’s suggested retail price. The Legislature’s Taxation Committee had recommended the bill be killed.

Voting to kill the legislation were Democratic Reps. Chuck Kruger of Thomaston, Andrew O’Brien of Lincolnville, Joan Welsh of Rockport, House Speaker Hannah Pingree of North Haven, Wendy Pieh of Bremen, Elizabeth Miller of Somerville, Veronica Magnan of Searsport and John Piotti of Unity.

Voting to keep the bill alive were Republican Reps. Wes Richardson of Warren, Jonathan McKane of Newcastle and Michael Thibodeau of Winterport.

Reps. Edward Mazurek, D-Rockland, and Jayne Crosby Giles, R-Belfast, were absent from the roll-call vote. Mazurek said he was attending the announcement of the expansion of Amtrak passenger train service to Brunswick and the planned connection to Rockland by Maine Eastern Railroad.

Kruger said he voted against the bill because the voters spoke very clearly in November on the issue of excise taxes.

A statewide referendum to reduce the excise tax by an average of 55 percent on vehicles newer than 6 years old was defeated by more than a three-to-one margin in the Midcoast with every community rejecting it.

“Also, our towns are going to face some brutal choices this year with cuts from the state budget on revenue sharing, general assistance and aid to education,” Kruger said. “Whacking another revenue stream to the towns makes no sense to me at all right now.”

Welsh said the reduction in motor vehicle excise tax would have decreased money to municipalities for roads and infrastructure and put even more pressure on property taxes.
Piotti also cited the loss of revenues to communities and November’s vote by the public.
Giles said she opposed the bill. She said she understood that this would have reduced revenues to municipalities, but it was not fair to tax people more than what they paid for their vehicles. She said the tax should be based on the price paid, not the suggested retail price.
Thibodeau said it was unfair to tax based on the sticker price and not the purchase price.
Sen. Christopher Rector, R-Thomaston, said he expected with the House rejection, the bill would also be rejected in the Senate.
Sen. A. David Trahan, R-Waldoboro, said the tax should be based on the price paid for the vehicle.