FREEPORT, MAINE – Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon has faced steady criticism in recent weeks for her choice to campaign from her home in Freeport rather than return to Augusta and take action on several major problems in Augusta. But a new ad from the Collins campaign is taking Gideon to task for a bill she sponsored last year which would have cost Mainers about $10 each time they filled up their gas tank.
The ad hits Gideon for sponsoring the bill, which would have added roughly a 40 cent per gallon tax on gasoline and heating oil under a bill designed to “price carbon pollution” and then funnel the money extracted from Mainers to the Maine PUC. In addition to sponsoring the bill, Gideon also spoke out in favor of the scheme at a press conference, calling it “one of the most important things we have to do.”
In Augusta, the bill has drawn widespread opposition from Maine people and industry groups that say the proposal would crush their budgets and businesses.
Testimony from the Professional Loggers Association of Maine says the bill would put a majority of the logging contractors in their association out of business.
Ralph Turner, a professional engineer and Obama White House appointee to a state USDA board testified in opposition to the bill, saying that the bill would hit “working people and small businesses already finding it nearly impossible to make ends meet.” Turner said the bill would result in about $650 million per year in additional taxes paid by Maine people and small businesses.
In the ad, Cole Staples, a farmer from Chapman, Maine says:
“Working people depend on our cars and trucks and in my budget every dollar counts.
“But Sara Gideon wants to raise taxes on gas and diesel.
“Gideon’s gas tax would raise gas prices 40 cents a gallon.
“That’s an extra ten bucks with every fill-up.
“It’s a bad idea that’s bad for Maine.
“Higher fuel taxes hurt Maine workers, our farmers, and our families.
“Maine can’t afford Sara Gideon.”
The gas and heating oil tax is not the only tax Gideon has sought to increase recently.
Gideon also sponsored a bill to add a new $153-$245 million payroll tax on all working Mainers under a vague paid leave plan. In that instance, Gideon actually had to increase her proposed tax when presenting it to the Maine Legislature’s Labor Committee after it was discovered that her original tax proposal would not cover the cost of the plan.
The Collins campaign also points out that not only is the gas tax a “regressive” tax, meaning it hits low-income Mainers more severely than wealthy Mainers, but that the money would not have gone to fix Maine’s roads and bridges.
The Collins campaign has also been highlighting Gideon’s failure to take action on Maine’s broken unemployment system or other critical problems in Maine, even as Senator Collins has regularly delivered federal funding and support for Maine’s small businesses, workers, critical industries, and recently, millions to support the state’s expanded COVID-19 testing.
You can watch the full Gideon gas tax television ad below.