If you ask a Mainer about taxes, you’re liable to get an earful: Mainers have one of the highest tax burdens in the nation. Nonetheless, on election day, Maine voters turned down proposals to cut taxes.

In a slow economy, Maine voters were leery of a proposal that would result in cuts in services. The controversial ballot issue, Question 4, asked voters if they wanted to limit future increases in state and local government spending and taxes to the rate of inflation plus population growth. The measure was known as the Taxpayer Bill of Rights campaign, or TABOR. Those opposed to the measure referred to it as “TABOR II” since a similar proposal was turned down in 2006.

Those in support of TABOR claimed that the bill would put more money back in taxpayer’s pockets. Critics wondered what the actual result of would be, as many state and local services were already facing cuts. Public schools are already operating under frozen budgets.

Voters also rejected a proposal to cut excise taxes on some vehicles and exempt hybrid and fuel-efficient vehicles from sales tax. Measures to encourage the purchase of cleaner cars are popular in states like Colorado but critics feared that tax cuts would have to be made up somewhere else. In that way, it wasn’t so much a tax cut as a shift in taxation.

While tax measures on the ballots were overshadowed by publicity over questions about making medical marijuana more available (yes) and gay marriage legal (no), the tax votes may be indicative of the mood of the nation on the eve of a huge election year… Only time will tell.

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Kelly Erb is a tax attorney and tax writer.

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