| August 22, 2013

The Maine idea for growth

Maine may be a couple thousand miles away, but it’s a lot like Oklahoma in one way: some of its counties are richer, while some are poorer, with higher unemployment and lower personal-income levels. Maine Gov. Paul LePage has been an outspoken advocate of lowering and eventually eliminating the state personal income tax to boost economic growth. Now the Maine Heritage Policy Center (that state’s counterpart to OCPA) has added a new wrinkle: selectively targeting depressed counties with major tax breaks.

Under the FreeME initiative announced last week, Maine would eliminate personal and corporate income taxes and suspend state sales taxes for businesses and individuals in counties meeting certain criteria. Oklahoma has counties like that, too — many of those along the Red River and in southeastern Oklahoma post economic indicators well below the metro areas, for example.

According to Gov. LePage, under the FreeME initiative, Maine would become a “tax haven of the northeast where entrepreneurs can thrive, where retirees can enjoy more of what they saved, and where families can keep more of what they earned.”The name “FreeME” uses the postal abbreviation for Maine, but it also implies a new level of economic freedom for the individual. Not a bad idea at all, and one that other states might want to consider.

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