Is being tax-free key to economic growth?

To what extent does tax policy alone cause an economy to grow — or keep it from growing?

Maine could soon have a laboratory of sorts to answer that question. Under a new initiative being pushed by the Maine Heritage Policy Center, called Free ME, the state would stop levying income and sales taxes in its poorest “rim” counties, starting with Washington County.

The BDN’s Whit Richardson this week reported that Gov. Paul LePage’s administration is seriously considering Free ME as a model for legislation. It’s sure to set up a heated battle among the parties at the State House. It could also be the start of a broader economic development conversation for Maine.

In an editorial published Thursday, the BDN argues that broader conversation about the state’s future economic direction is something that’s sorely needed. A cohesive economic development strategy that guides tax policy, workforce development investments and infrastructure improvements has long been lacking in Maine.

“If Maine started with that much, policymakers could orient tax policy accordingly and make deliberate government investments rather than invest blind faith in an unproven initiative,” the editorial argues.

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