January 9, 2012; Source: Bangor Daily News | Last Thursday, Paul LePage, Maine’s governor, informed the legislature that he had vetoed LD 205, a bill that would have exempted nonprofit performing arts groups from paying state sales tax. The exemption was being pushed by two arts groups in particular—Maine State Music Theater and the Bowdoin International Music Festival—both in Brunswick, Maine, which, together will be charged for more than half of the total ($45,000) expected to be levied statewide. The two groups argue that 1) other nonprofits have been afforded the exemption, and the exclusion of arts group in particular is unfair, and 2) the performing arts groups bring business to the state, and as such they should be supported the same way other businesses deemed valuable to the economy are. The Bowdoin International Music Festival is estimated to generate $3 million in economic impact, while the Maine State Music Theater is estimated to generate around $5 million.
The two organizations say that they will continue to fight for the bill, but the veto would have to have a two-thirds vote in the legislature to get the veto overturned.—Ruth McCambridge