The state’s tax code reflects the values of the lawmakers who write it. They use tax policy to influence, reward and discourage activities and behaviors. For example, the Opportunity Maine tax credit is meant to encourage Maine’s best and brightest to pursue careers at home, while our tobacco tax aims to discourage Mainers from smoking. State tax policy is a powerful thing.

For many weeks, your elected lawmakers in Augusta have been considering one of the most important bills of the entire legislative session. Submitted by the department I lead, this bill would simplify Maine’s tax code by aligning, or conforming, it with the federal tax law. After years of uncertainty on the federal level, Maine has an opportunity to bring long-term certainty to its taxpayers.

In the past, conformity proposals have received overwhelming bipartisan support in recognition of the benefit provided to Maine’s businesses and families. That’s why it is so frustrating to see what should be a meaningful policy discussion devolve into election year showboating.

Our proposal is simple: It adopts, permanently, the federal business expensing deduction and extends the Maine Capital Investment Credit through 2019. Both encourage business investment to strengthen our economic recovery. It also includes a number of important tax incentives that directly benefit working Maine families.

Legislative Democrats, who originally resisted the LePage administration’s pro-growth tax conformity legislation, have slowly started coming around. But instead of adopting our proposal on its merits, they have latched onto the Maine Capital Investment Credit as the target of their ire.

The Maine Capital Investment Credit is Maine’s version of bonus depreciation. It was created by the Maine Legislature in 2011 and has been supported by Republicans and Democrats alike every year since. Bonus depreciation encourages businesses to make capital investments by accelerating the depreciation schedule on new equipment purchases. Businesses of all sizes know this can make the difference between making or delaying their capital investments. The National Bureau of Economic Research and the Tax Foundation have issued recent reports finding that bonus depreciation encourages economic growth.

There have been claims that the Maine Capital Investment Credit only benefits large, out-of-state corporations. The truth is that more than 4,000 small-business filers and 150 Maine-based corporations take the Maine Capital Investment Credit each year. Another 150 out-of-state corporations, who nonetheless have significant investments in our state and fellow citizens, also benefit from the Maine Capital Investment Credit.

Others have criticized the Maine Capital Investment Credit because it is technically a decoupling from the federal code. This is a false criticism; decoupling is intentional. If Maine merely adopted federal bonus depreciation, we would also provide tax breaks to companies for investments that they make elsewhere. That would defeat the whole point.

The Maine Capital Investment Credit is tailored to focus the benefits of bonus depreciation on investments that have been made in Maine only. That is the beauty of the credit — a business must invest in Maine. If a business moves its assets outside Maine, the state can recapture the tax benefit.

Congress and President Barack Obama have finally developed a tax policy to continue strengthening the nation’s economy, which includes extending bonus depreciation for another four years. Maine should do the same.

Your friends and neighbors — small-business owners from across Maine — traveled to Augusta to testify at the public hearing on our department’s tax conformity bill. They articulated that the Maine Capital Investment Credit has helped them invest in their businesses and employees. Economic activity is up. Business investment has increased. Instead of celebrating the success of a credit they helped create, legislative Democrats are turning their backs on the Maine Capital Investment Credit.

The Maine Senate has the opportunity to stand up for taxpayers when its members reconsider this tax conformity legislation. The House’s version eliminates the Maine Capital Investment Credit and performs a bait-and-switch by raiding the state’s Budget Stabilization Fund of $21.6 million under the guise of supporting schools and communities.

This reckless approach, championed by House Democrats, ignores the importance to our creditors that Maine continue to build the balance of our stabilization fund. Stealing from the fund now would send a dangerous signal and threaten the progress we have made post-recession to ensure Maine can weather the next economic downturn.

As a former seven-term legislator, I understand that political posturing is sometimes required of elected officials. Regrettably, a misguided group of legislators has chosen to play politics with your livelihoods. The cost to our job creators is simply too high should Maine fail to enact our proposal.

The Legislature has the opportunity to invest in Maine’s businesses and families. It would be irresponsible not to.

Richard W. Rosen is commissioner of the Department of Administrative and Financial Services.