Last year Maine Governor Paul LePage signed the largest tax cuts in his state's history, saying it would be good for business and the economy. Today, facing a river of red ink, the Republican governor ordered $35.5 million in immediate spending cuts, a third of that in funding for education. The shortfall now comes from corporate and sales taxes coming in lower than expected.
It's still more money than LePage wanted for government. During the election, he argued for yet more tax cuts:
"I think the state of Maine should have no corporate tax at all and that the United States of America should be around 20 percent," he said. "Then we could compete worldwide."
That position proved unpopular with voters, who picked Democrats and their campaign against LePage's tax policies. Democrats won control of the state legislature, but not with a veto-proof majority. That means spending cuts like the "temporary" ones announced today could become a more permanent feature of governance. Starting this summer, Maine faces the loss of $400 million in revenue over the next two years -- all from the cuts LePage signed in 2011.