Maine State Senator Peter Mills

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Articles Written By Peter Mills

Capital Punishment - Maine Style July 2009
Nothing is quite so powerful ó or so simple ó as reducing the tax on investment capital. Itís time to tear up the petitions and permit the new tax bill to go to work for the Maine economy. [read the article]

A Grumpy Critique of Maine's Legislative Process April 1999
Democracy is by nature inefficient; but we seem hard at work to make it worse than our founders designed it to be. [read the article]

Maine Taxes and Government Growth March 2009
Ron Bancroft details changes in Maine tax policy and governement growth in reference to Senator Mills' "Maine Tax Policy: Domesday Lessons" (article below.) [read the article]

Wind Power for Maine Oct 2008
The Maine Center for Economic Policy published Peter Mills' two part series on how Maine's policies on electric power, taxation and economic development presently intersect and how those policies must change to benefit from wind. Download the pdfs - part 1 - part 2

2008 Legislature Report Summer 2008
The three most important bills passed this year all dealt with electric power. Because these received so little attention from the press, I have explained them later in this mailing. Energy policy is crucial for the future of Maine, and the opportunities for Somerset County are especially significant... [read the article]

Maine's Caught in an Electricity Vise May 2008
For every penny that out-of-state pressures raise the price of a kilowatt-hour, we lose $120 million. [read the article]

Imprisoned by Public Pensions May 2008
We should grant Maine's newly hired teachers and public employees access to Social Security -- and the freedom to move in and out of public service that comes with it. [read the article]

2007 Legislature Report October 2007
With the work of the 123rd Legislative Session half completed, much of what we dealt with is far from finished. We still have to find real solutions to the crisis in health care, high taxes and control over spending... [read the article]

Peter Mills: A Warning Like Ike's March 2007
Toward the end of his presidency, Dwight Eisenhower famously warned Americans about the "military-industrial complex" that so dominated national spending priorities in the 1950s and continues to do so even to this day... Today, most state governments, and Maine in particular, are subject to a similar dominance that could fittingly be called the "socio-educational complex," one that is supported by the two big pillars of state spending... [read the article]

Let Them Learn in Ghettos March 2007
The truth is that consolidation of districts has one virtue above others; and it's not about the money. It's about equity. [read the article]

An Act to Increase Efficiency in School Administration Feb. 2007
On July 1, 2007, each school unit shall join one of 22 state chartered Educational Cooperatives ("Co-ops") to contract for the delivery of regional services... [read the article]

Controlling Taxes: A Sensible Alternative to TABOR Nov. 2006
Maine people are constantly being told that this referendum or that one will soon bring them relief from high taxes, that the state just needs to adopt one easy solution or another and things will soon be better. The truth is that it will take years to improve our tax climate. To help us get there we need sensible benchmarks and determined leadership to enforce the limits we set for ourselves over time. [read the article]

Maine Needs a Fiercely Moderate Alternative to TABOR Oct. 2006
Maine doesn't need the Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Instead, we need a consortium of responsible civic voices prepared to propose and enforce passage of an alternative multi-dimensional plan to control government spending, one that is stronger than TABOR, better crafted, effective without senseless paralysis -- one that improves on familiar laws already in place. [read the article]

Mills Speech before the GOP State Convention May 2006
In the last nine months I have traveled from Fort Kent to Kittery so that you could meet me. And, more importantly, so that I could meet you. My travels have confirmed what I have always known: That deep in the soul of Maine people is a great work ethic, a sense of self-sufficiency. [read the speech] - [listen to the speech]

A Seven-Point Prescription to Cure Dirigo Choice Feb. 2006
Dirigo insurance is presently a tiny and ineffectual program providing coverage for only 2300 previously uninsured people. The product has become notorious because so many other Maine premium payers (650,000 of them) are now being taxed to benefit so few. Meanwhile, 130,000 other Mainers remain uninsured. [read the article]

Public health programs more productive than Dirigo Dec. 2005
Instead of giving so much money to an insurance company for the benefit of so few, we could spend this extraordinary sum more productively if we were to: fund a statewide system for electronic medical records to lower costs and increase safety for everyone; deliver care directly to children through school-based health clinics; expand rural health centers where patients pay a sliding scale fee; or provide affordable dental care in clinics where patients contribute to the cost of treating themselves and their children. [read the article]

Budgets & Porridge Sept. 2005
State spending by itself is just the "Mama Bear porridge pot". The bigger Papa Bear pot is the one that includes not only state money but also the combined revenues of 491 towns, 286 school units, 3 Indian tribes, the Unorganized Territories and 16 counties. When you add them up and net out the overlaps, it comes to $5 billion in spending from state and local revenue. In addition, Maine receives and allocates about $3 billion of "other special revenues," primarily federal matching money for Medicaid and highways.

If we put the entire cluster of state and local services (roads, schools, law enforcement, fire protection, courts, Medicaid & welfare) out to bid, even Halliburton could probably do it for less than the $8 billion we are spending. That's 18% of the state's gross domestic product. It's $6200 per person. [read the article]

Announcement for Governor Aug. 2005
I have decided to run for Governor. As the minority party, we Republicans owe it to Maine people to explain what we will do if we are put in charge by next yearís election. We need a plan that satisfies independents and disaffected Democrats as well as our fellow Republicans. [read the announcement]

Maine's Public Debt Feb. 2005
We are often told that our debt payments are only about $120 million per year, or 4% of revenue, a figure that compares favorably with the debt service of other states; yet this figure includes only GO and GFA bonds. It does not include the $160 million minimum payment due for FY 2006 on the UAL. It does not include exponential growth in the unfunded obligation for retiree health insurance for which there are no reserves at all. It does not include $26 million a year for the liquor sale, $40 million proposed for factoring of the lottery, $60 million as the state's share of K-12 school debt financing, nor the rate at which we are falling behind in Medicaid payments to Maine's hospitals. When these and other unpublicized debts are included, Maine's total debt service easily exceeds 20% of annual revenue, five times the amount commonly publicized. 20% of our budget is spent to keep promises that prior legislators failed to pay for. [read the article]

Income Tax Nutshell April 2004
The basics of Maine's tax structure and Peter's suggested reforms. [read the article]

Maine Tax Policy: Domesday Lessons Feb. 2004
In the year 1086, William the Conqueror sent English public servants out to inventory his nationís property and to create what became the Domesday Book. Itís purpose was to equalize the kingís property taxes among his subjects after the Norman Conquest. Public employees could well have done very similar work for the state of Maine during our first 130 years of statehood. For in the intervening millenium, the elements of our state tax structure had changed very little from feudal times. [read the article]

Dubious Funding of Local Government 1999
When all of the state's revenue sharing and rebate systems are identified, quantified and held up to light, it is difficult to conclude that there is any general or unifying theme that can pass muster as consistent policy. In reviewing and critiquing these systems, this article makes the case that raw necessity and simple equity ought to be the guiding principles for justifying state expenditures on local government. To go beyond merely squanders revenue and elevates state taxes in a way that threatens the competitiveness of Maine's economy in the national marketplace. [read the article]

A Critical Exegesis of Maine's Creaky Tax Code 1997
Prior to the 1997 legislative session, I embarked on a self-guided expedition through the meanderings of Maine's tax code. Liberally provisioned with caffeine and armed with a laptop, I journeyed alone into this heart of darkness, to read the whole text in several sittings, to map out what I found and to form fresh impressions directly from the muddy source. [read the article]

A Dissent in Defense of Our Most Hated Tax 1996
Of all the taxes that we pay, the tax on property is certainly the least popular, perhaps because it so literally hits "closest to home." It imposes a perpetual burden on our domiciles, creating a payment that seems always to increase each year, a mortgage debt never to be paid off, an annoying annual reminder that our rights in property are not absolute. [read the article]

Bibliography of State Financial Information