The Star-Herald

Question 1 is wrong for Maine

To the editor:

Question 1 on the statewide ballot this November reads:

“Do you want to create the Universal Home Care Program to provide home-based assistance to people with disabilities and senior citizens, regardless of income, funded by a new 3.8 percent tax on individuals and families with Maine wage and adjusted gross income above the amount subject to Social Security taxes, which is $128,400 in 2018?”

What you may not know, and what proponents are misleading Maine voters about, is that Question 1’s new tax would impact 60,000 Maine families, including working families with two income earners whose combined income exceeds $128,400. This is not only an additional burden for many Maine families, but it would harm Maine’s economy.

The $310 million in new tax dollars Question 1 would raise annually would give Maine the highest top tax rate of any state in the country. It would hit our small businesses and the self-employed particularly hard. They would pay a higher tax rate than large corporations.

Question 1 also would put up a major barrier to attracting and retaining the employers and workers Maine needs.

Maine’s state economist warned in a recent report that, if Question 1 passes, Maine’s population, labor force and employment would drop markedly, and that personal income and state GDP losses would be significant.

Perhaps even more concerning is that, despite what proponents say, Question 1 would violate the privacy of Maine’s elders and disabled. It would do so by creating an unaccountable quasi-government board to operate a new program and would allow those seeking to be elected to the board access to the protected health information of the elderly and disabled voters who receive care — without these individuals’ permission — for purposes of campaigning for a seat on the board.

Because Question 1 does not include residency or income requirements to qualify for the program, millionaires and part-time summer residents would be eligible, likely resulting in wait lists for those truly in need.

In addition to all four candidates for Maine governor, nearly 40 statewide organizations representing the health care, home care and businesses oppose Question 1.

The Home Care and Hospice Alliance of Maine strongly opposes Question 1, saying it does not appropriately address the important issues facing home-based care and, instead, creates more problems.

Former Maine Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Dan Wathen has indicated Question 1 likely is unconstitutional. Health care legal experts believe it violates federal health privacy laws.

Despite these serious flaws that are written in black and white in the ballot measure’s language, proponents of Question 1, who are well-funded mostly by big, out-of-state contributions, continue to mislead Maine people.

We must set the record straight. The massive new tax Question 1 would impose on working families and businesses would harm our economy, our seniors and our disabled citizens.

The broad opposition to Question 1 underscores how devastating it would be for Maine.

Please vote NO on Question 1 at the polls on Nov. 6 and defeat this disastrous measure.

Dana Connors

President, Maine State Chamber of Commerce

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