2012-01-09 / Front Page

Sponsor Gerzofsky: LD 205 legislative override unlikely

BY DARREN FISHELL, Times Record Staff

BRUNSWICK — Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of a bill that would have exempted nonprofit performing arts centers from paying sales taxes is likely to stick, according to Sen. Stan Gerzofsky, D-Brunswick.

Gerzofsky, the bill’s sponsor, represents a district that includes two of the state’s largest nonprofit performing arts nonprofit organizations: the Bowdoin International Music Festival and the Maine State Music Theatre (MSMT).

Steve Peterson, executive director of the MSMT, said Friday that he would explore the possibility of amassing support from two- thirds of the Maine Senate to overturn the veto, but Gerzofsky told The Times Record that a veto override is unlikely.

“I don’t think we have those kinds of votes,” Gerzofsky said.

Gerzofsky said he has spoken about the veto with Sen. Roger Katz, R-Augusta, and adviser to the MSMT board, and both found it unlikely that the veto could be overturned.

“ It’s very hard to get a party in power to overturn their governor’s veto,” Gerzofsky said, referring to the fact that Republicans hold a 19-15 majority in the Senate, with one seat vacant.

If two-thirds of the Senate votes to override the bill, then it would go to the House, where it also would require a twothirds override vote. Republicans also hold a majority of seats in the Maine House.

If Democrats were to mount an attempt to overturn the governor’s veto, Gerzofksy said, the effort would likely include two other Democrat-sponsored bills that were nixed by the veto pen in an announcement Thursday.

Along with the veto of Gerzofsky’s bill, LD 205, LePage also vetoed bills by Sen. Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, and Sen. Phil Bartlett, D-Gorham, that dealt, respectively, with tax credits for logging companies that hire Maine residents and energy efficiency.

“If we looked at that, we’d look at all three,” Gerzofsky said. “I’m not going to stick my finger in the governor’s eye just for practice.”

Because the bills originated in the Senate, that body has the authority to override Le- Page’s veto.

Gerzofsky expressed disappointment with the veto of a bill he viewed as a “jobs bill” to provide performing arts groups with the same tax exemption as museums and educational summer camps.

“If we’re going to give one group that’s very similar a tax exemption — that creates jobs and we should do that for everyone,” Gerzofsky said. “Half is a fairness issue and the other half is about jobs and the economy.”

In a letter on the veto, LePage wrote that he strongly supports tax relief, but it “must be in terms of an overall plan.”

Gerzofsky said he was surprised by the timing and reasoning for LePage’s veto of a bill the Legislature passed in June.

“He could have vetoed it in June. I’m surprised that he waited so long,” Gerzofsky said.

dfishell@timesrecord.com

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