Credit: Keith Srakocic | AP

A Maine legislative committee has signed off on a plan to eliminate state income tax on retirement benefits for public employees.

Democratic Sen. Shenna Bellows of Manchester made the proposal, which supporters said would benefit workers such as firefighters, law enforcement officers and teachers. The Maine Legislature’s Taxation Committee approved the change Tuesday.

Maine charges a state income tax on public pension benefits over $10,000. Bellows called that unfair to public employees, because private sector retirees don’t face the same tax. She said the state is making “their lives worse when we tax those who already sacrificed so much to serve our communities in the public sector.”

Numerous public employee associations testified in support of the bill, which now heads to the full legislature for votes.