As anyone who is familiar with writer Stephen King knows, he and his home state of Maine are closely linked. A majority of the books and stories he’s written over his 40-odd (very odd) years as a popular author are set in that state. The Kings have a home in Bangor and a summer house in Lovell. The man is a Main-ah through and through.
So whatever possessed Gov. Paul LePage to insinuate that the Kings had moved to Florida to avoid paying state taxes in their home state? In his weekly radio address on Wednesday, LePage spoke about his latest attempt to get rid of the Maine’s state income tax. The address was full of the usual Tea Party rhetoric “trying to return money,” “small business,” “hard-working,” “fairness,” and the denial that his plan would only benefit the rich. Sure. But it was the last paragraph of the address that caused LePage ‘s problem:
“Meanwhile, remember who introduced the income tax here in Maine. Well, today former Governor Ken Curtis lives in Florida where there is zero income tax. Stephen King and Roxanne Quimby have moved away, as well.”
Oh, dear. LePage has managed to build a glass house. Aside from the fact that Gov. LePage’s wife is a “snowbird,” she also paid a large fine to the state of Florida for claiming residency in both that state and Maine. Ooopsie. I guess the Gov forgot about those trifles. Don’t they always? But we remember: It’s Okay If You Are Republican or IOKIYAR.
Those of us who know anything about Stephen King — full disclosure: I am a Moderator on his official Message Board — know that he is a staunch Democrat and doesn’t give a fig who knows it. He also believes that, as a member of the 1%, he should pay his taxes without bitching about them. He recently told his fellow one-percent-ers to stop being “selfish pricks.” He is not a fan of the Tea Party, either, calling them out for their hypocrisy on caring for the needy as thousands of needy children crossed our southern border last summer. King is also a supporter of gun control. His e-essay, “Guns,” pissed off a lot of ammosexuals when it came out a couple of years ago.
Sometimes “Uncle Stevie” (as he’s known to fans) doesn’t feel the need to respond to things that are said about him. If anyone does, he knows that life is too short to pay much attention to little darts thrown his way. But, in this case, he felt no such restraint. He let LaPage have it:
“Governor LePage is full of the stuff that makes the grass grow green. Tabby and I pay every cent of our Maine state income taxes, and are glad to do it. We feel, as Governor LePage apparently does not, that much is owed from those to whom much has been given. We see our taxes as a way of paying back the state that has given us so much. State taxes pay for state services. There’s just no way around it. Governor LePage needs to remember there ain’t no free lunch.”
The Kings — Stephen, Tabitha and their kids — have been generous to their home state. Yes, they do fly south for the winter: have you seen how cold it gets there? And him with arthritis! But Maine is where they vote. Maine is where they founded the STK Foundation (for Steve and Tabitha King) as a way to give back to the community. It’s where Steve built Mansfield Stadium, his gift to the young baseball teams of Bangor, a playing field called “one of the finest in Maine.”
After King’s response, LePage’s office sent out a revised version of the radio address. This version was disseminated with a note asking that it be the version sent out “in future.” An odd request considering that that particular horse had left the barn.
“Correction: Please see the attached revised version of this week’s message. Please use this audio file in future broadcasts. Thank you.”
Thus it is with anyone who implies that Stephen King does anything less than love his home state and happily gives back to it in the form of his taxes. King does not bear fools gladly: Gov. LaPage had better hope he doesn’t end up in a future novel. He certainly would end up a villain, much as Dick Cheney inspired Big Jim in “Under The Dome.” One should never piss off an author, especially one like Stephen King.