Crossroads GPS: “Tilting”

Crossroads GPS’ attack on Angus King for recommending taxpayer funding for a windmill project that ‘cluttered Maine’s scenic beauty’ ignores the significant benefits it has provided to the town where the windmills went up. Thanks to the windmill project, Roxbury residents saw a 59 percent drop in their property tax rates, among other direct financial benefits. The project has been hailed by local leaders and residents alike. The ad’s claims about taxes and schools funding in King’s tenure are similarly dishonest.

Crossroads GPS Tilts At Windmills

Wind Project Decreased Tax Bills By 59 Percent. According to the Portland Press Herald: “The roughly 400 residents in the Oxford County town of Roxbury got new tax bills in August that are 59 percent lower than their last bills, the direct result of the $120 million Record Hill wind project developed there by King’s former company. The project created an instant commercial tax base for the town and reduced the tax rate from $16.86 per thousand dollars of property value to $6.93.” [Portland Press Herald, 9/11/12] 

Roxbury Households Also “Receiving A $111 Check From The Company Every Three Months.” According to the Portland Press Herald: “Each Roxbury household is also receiving a $111 check from the company every three months to cover the cost of electricity as a way to provide a state-mandated ‘tangible benefit’ to the community. The amount of the checks will change as the electricity price goes up and down.” [Portland Press Herald, 9/11/12]

Background On Record Hill

In 2007, King And Business Partner Formed Independence Wind. According to the Morning Sentinel: “In 2007, four years after King left the governor’s office, he and Rob Gardiner, former president of the Maine Public Broadcasting Network, formed a new company, Brunswick-based Independence Wind.” [Morning Sentinel, 9/15/12]

Independence Wind’s First Project Was Record Hill Wind Farm In Roxbury, ME. According to the Morning Sentinel: “Independence Wind’s first project was Record Hill, a 22-turbine, 50-megawatt wind farm in the Oxford County community of Roxbury. Independence Wind became a partner in a new company, Record Hill Wind, along with Wagner Forest Management and other investors. King and Gardiner held a combined 10 percent share of Record Hill Wind.” [Morning Sentinel, 9/15/12]

Recovery Act Created Loan Guarantee Program For Green Energy Projects. According to the Morning Sentinel: After the financial markets crashed in 2008, there was little willingness to risk money on energy projects, according to King and Gardiner. In 2009, the so-called federal stimulus law created new incentives for stalled ‘green’ energy projects to proceed. The Department of Energy used funding to guarantee loans for qualified renewable energy projects that included innovative technologies. Guarantees that the federal agency would repay loans if developers could not enable projects to obtain financing at below-market rates despite the sluggish economy.” [Morning Sentinel, 9/15/12]

Record Hill Applied For Loan Guarantee In 2010, Was Approved In 2011 After King Left Company. According to the Morning Sentinel: In 2010, Record Hill applied for a $120 million loan guarantee. Its private investors included the wealthy Yale University Endowment, but the project would not have moved forward with private financing, given the poor market conditions, according to King and Gardiner. The energy department eventually approved the application based on Record’s Hill use of a technology intended to prevent turbulence, which can shut turbines down and reduce efficiency. It is the first commercial-scale use of that technology in the United States, according to the DOE. […]Record Hill’s loan guarantee was approved in August 2011, 16 months later. By the time the loan guarantee came through, King was no longer an owner of Record Hill. In January 2011 — seven months before the loan was approved — the majority investors bought out King and Gardiner, according to documents provided by King’s campaign.” [Morning Sentinel, 9/15/12]

Record Hill Also Received A $33 Million Federal Grant After King “Was Out Of The Picture.” According to the Morning Sentinel: “More recently, Republicans have criticized another federal subsidy for Record Hill — a $33.7 million U.S. Treasury Department grant received in June. The grant also is related to the federal stimulus law. Renewable-energy developers have been receiving tax credits from the Treasury Department since 1992 under President George H.W. Bush. The 2009 stimulus law gave companies a new choice: Take the annual tax credit and recoup development costs over time or receive a one-time grant equal to one-third of a project’s development cost. Record Hill is one of 37 Maine companies so far to choose a grant instead of a tax credit. […] King said he was out of the picture before the owners even applied for the grant. He dismissed the idea of favoritism in the tax credit program.” [Morning Sentinel, 9/15/12]

Tax Burden Declined By Hundreds Of Millions Under King’s Administration

Portland Press Herald “Truth Test”: King Lowered Taxes. From the Portland Press Herald‘s fact check of an Angus King ad claiming he lowered taxes: “There’s no politician who hasn’t boasted of lowering one tax or another, so we’re going to hold King to a large burden of proof — not just a few decreases, but Maine’s tax burden over his tenure as governor, by two separate measures. First, a Maine Revenue Services document detailing the net estimated effect of “significant” King-era tax increases and decreases and their impact in fiscal year 2003. The sheet says nearly $429 million was saved in taxes because of changes enacted between 1995 and 2003. […] Second, we’ll look at another Maine Revenue Services measure of taxation — a 2011 incidence study that measured Maine’s effective state and local tax rate back to 1996. It said that in 1996, King’s second full year in office, Mainers paid just over 11.8 percent of income, including capital gains, in state and local taxes. In 2002, King’s last full year in office, that rate had dropped to under 11.5 percent. […] Verdict: All evidence collected points to a large impact on Mainers’ wallets from changes enacted during the King administration. With a net and percentage-wide decrease, we’ve got no problem with the claim. We rate this statement true.” [Portland Press Herald, 9/10/12, emphasis original]

Schools Cuts Amounted To 1.37 Percent Of What State Planned To Spend On Schools, And Were Issued In Face Of $180 Million Budget Shortfall

King’s $10 Million Cut From State Aid To Schools Was Less Than 2 Percent Of What State Was Supposed To Send To Schools In Fiscal Year 2003. According to the Associated Press: “King said last month that he was prepared to unilaterally reduce school aid by $10 million for fiscal 2003, which began July 1. State aid to local school units was $622 million in fiscal 2000 and $664.1 million in fiscal 2001. It grew by 6.7 percent to $708.7 million for fiscal 2002, according to legislative analysts, and was scheduled to increase by 3.1 percent to $730.8 million for fiscal 2003.” $10 million out of $730.8 million is approximately 1.37 percent. [Associated Press via Nexis, 7/3/02]

At The Time, Maine Faced Projected Budget Shortfall Of $180 Million. According to the Associated Press: “Early effects of Maine’s revenue shortfall will be visible when most state government offices remain closed on Friday, the day after Fourth of July. Gov. Angus King is furloughing thousands of workers without pay for the day. The shutdown is part of King’s package of unilateral steps aimed at reducing a shortfall originally pegged at $180 million through June 2003.” [Associated Press via Nexis, 7/3/02]

[NARRATOR:] As Governor, Angus King pushed for job killing tax increases and then slashed funding for our schools. But in the end, King sure took care of himself. From his seat on a government task force, King helped his windmill company by recommending taxpayer funding and government loan guarantees. Ignoring his subjects and cluttering Maine’s scenic beauty, while King made sure he could live like, well, a king. Crossroads GPS is responsible for the content of this advertising. [Crossroads GPS via YouTube, 10/23/12]