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excise tax

No on 2 and 4 GOTV

An Election Day video from the No on 2 and 4 campaigns, featuring a bunch of awesome people:

Green Fight!

Pat LaMarche, the Maine Green Independent Party's 2006 gubernatorial candidate, apparently spoke at a rally today for "More Green Now," the group supporting the excise tax cut, likely as part of their attempt to greenwash the referendum. I'll be interested to see if the next expenditure report shows any payment for her services.

While the PAC may have found one member of the environmentally-conscious party to embrace their cynical ploy, other Greens aren't going along. Here's what Lynne Williams, recent Green Independent Party chair and now candidate for governor had to say about the initiative:

Passing Question 2 would decimate the municipalities, towns and counties in this state.

It’s not a green initiative. In fact, one of the ten key values for our party is decentralization and localization and the excise tax embodies local control. We want plowing done and local streets repaired and we want parks for our kids to play in. To take away that local control and that funding would be a disaster for Maine.

Some Green Later

Portland Daily Sun columnist Anna T. Collins emails to let me know she followed up on the greenwashing of the excise tax referendum. She writes:

In a public manner, the group behind More Green Now — Maine Leads — does not appear to be led by anyone with credentials to advocate for "green" causes. According to the public database of the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics & Election Practices, it appears that the members of the Board of Directors and staff at Maine Leads have not contributed to environmentalist candidates or PACs. In fact, most of the contributions have been for Republican candidates, party committees, and tax-reduction- PACs. There is also no indication from Maine Leads’ website that it has ever been involved in environmental issues in the past. In fact, there is no explanation as to why it is now backing "tax relief" aimed at "green" cars.

Roy Lenardson insists the lack of information about environmental causes on the Maine Leads site is not indicative of the group’s lacking commitment to excise tax reduction for "green" vehicles. In fact, he views Maine Green Now as a great example of how Maine Leads can work together with environmentalists, such as Pat LaMarche. "Pat LaMarche, who was the Green Party’s Vice Presidential Candidate in 2004, has supported the excise tax reduction bill from the beginning," he explains. Lenardson continues that the term "green" does not belong to anyone. "Unfortunately, there is the current dynamic that 'green' somehow belongs to one side or the other," he continues "but, it does not have to be that way."[...]

He also insists that the partnership with LaMarche will become more public in the weeks to come and shares that my call has reminded him to update the public information offered by Maine Leads. Perhaps with those updates, it will become more clear what exactly is "green" about "Maine Green Now."

Pat LaMarche was contacted for this column, but we were unable to connect before the deadline.

Does this mean the casino campaign was a "green" initiative too?

Less Green Now

The Sun Journal editorial board seems to agree with me on the cynicism of the excise tax referendum campaign.

This referendum attacks an unpopular, regressive levy, but is obscured with a coat of greenwash. Coined as "More Green Now," it tries to give tax policy a social and environmental edge, by extolling the bill's incentives for saving money and buying hybrid cars.

If the idea were that good, it wouldn't need an ill-fitting green suit. The referendum is a nuclear option for dealing with the evergreen criticisms about the excise tax, which shouldn't make its primary color so much green, as Atomic Warning Sign Yellow.

Lenardson on TABOR, Excise Tax Referendums

Floridian Roy Lenardson discusses his organization's new referendum proposals on WLOB:

They Can't Be Serious

Websites in favor of the conservative referendums that will be on the ballot in November are now online (even for the one that was thrown out for a lack of valid signatures).

The content of the pro-TABOR site isn't yet accessible, but the excise tax repeal site is up and it's a work of staggering cynicism. Rather than focusing on the excise tax as a funding mechanism for local government, the group promoting the tax cut are instead styling themselves as environmentalists. The site's headline is "More Green Now" and they seem to be focusing their entire message on the portion of the legislation that provides a tax break for buying a new hybrid vehicle. I imagine there might be a few actual environmentalists with something to say about this crass attempt to greenwash these tax cuts.

The site is registered to the More Green Now PAC, which is a creature of Maine Leads, the conservative organization that proposed the referenda in cooperation with the Maine Heritage Policy Center. According to its registration form the PAC is run by Roy Lenardson, Chris Cinquemani and Trevor and Anna Bragdon. Interestingly, the form also reveals that Lenardson, Maine Leads' Executive Director, isn't actually a Maine resident anymore. He lists a home in Florida as his mailing address.

One Down, Two to Go

Word was handed down by the Secretary of State's office yesterday that four citizen-initiated referenda were approved for the November ballot, including a referendum on providing medical marijuana, a proposed veto of the school consolidation bill passed last session, and two tax measures written and supported by the Maine Heritage Policy Center and Maine Leads, a pair of conservative interest groups.

These two groups had also submitted a petition for a third referendum which would have deregulated Maine's health insurance industry, but every single signature was rejected due to a mistake in the signature gathering process. Apparently, the pages on which the legislation was printed were presented out of order, making it difficult for signatories to judge the full intent of the referendum.

Even if the petitions had been printed correctly, other signature collection and administration mistakes would have invalidated 9,509 signatures, according to the Secretary of State's decision, dropping the number below the 55,087 needed to secure a spot on the ballot.

All of these measures will make for an interesting election in November, but the campaign for the new TABOR referendum may be the one to watch. Will Mainers resent the fact that these groups are trying to push a piece of legislation that's already been rejected once, or will they feel that the state fiscal and political situation has changed enough (or has failed to change) so that this kind of blunt tax reform is advisable? We'll start to find out soon.