Governor Paul LePage, you’ve just finished eight years as chief executive of the great state of Maine! What do you do next? Easy — you split the state and live tax-free in Florida:
Now in the final two months of his eight years in the governor’s mansion, LePage said he was “talking to a couple of universities” about teaching in Florida from September through April, but he would not identify the schools. LePage and his wife, Ann, already own a house in Florida and often vacation there. He said he would be in Maine from April to September.
Asked where he would maintain his legal residency, LePage replied Florida.
“I’ll tell you very, very simply: I have a house in Florida. I will pay no income tax and the house in Florida’s property taxes are $2,000 less than we were paying in Boothbay,” LePage said. “At my age, why wouldn’t you conserve your resources and spend it on family (rather) than spend it on taxes?”
Not sure anyone will ever top that as a mic drop, frankly. NYT political reporter Jonathan Martin called it an “instant classic,” which it is. He also pointed out that it’s a bit awkward for LePage’s daughter, who’s helping run Republican Shawn Moody’s campaign to succeed him:
A heck of a way to step on his preferred successor, too. Moody’s campaign is run by LePage daughter and other lieutenants. https://t.co/xqnHbgEhor
— Jonathan Martin (@jmartNYT) November 5, 2018
Right now, Moody doesn’t need the aggravation. Two polls in October have him down eight points to Democrat Janet Mills, which might be another reason to want to move to Florida. It probably doesn’t do much for Moody’s last-day chances to have a famously eccentric fellow Republican throw the entire state under the bus, even if it’s tough to fault LePage on his logic.
And … it is tough to fault LePage on his logic. An analysis by WalletHub earlier this year put Maine as the third-ranked state based on overall tax burden at 11.02%, trailing only New York (13.04%) and Hawaii (11.57%) for the highest burden in the nation. Florida ranks fourth-cheapest at 6.64%, with only Alaska, Delaware, and Tennessee easier on taxpayers. Hell, if I could get a Florida college to sign me up as a professor, I’d take that deal, too. Maybe Shawn Harrison can put in a word for me at the University of Central Florida, after he gets done winning his election, and I’ll hang out in North Tampa and count my sweet, untaxable income on the other end of the I-4 Corridor from Disney World. I’m pretty sure the First Mate won’t shed too many tears over leaving -20-degree winters behind, let alone the fifth-highest tax burden in the US.
Of course, I’m not the governor of Minnesota, either. The question should be why LePage didn’t spend the last eight years doing something about this …. but you’ll have to ask him that at Disney World. Yo ho, yo ho, a tax ex-pat’s life for me …