State House in Maine. Photo by Ramona du Houx
House Speaker Mark Eves is sounding the alarm about the impact of Governor Paul LePage’s budget on school funding and calling for lawmakers to support the Better Deal for Maine plan.
In addition to bolstering funding for Maine students and public education by $20 million per year, the Better Deal for Maine increases property tax relief for Maine families by $120 million and gives a bigger tax cut to middle and low income families than the Governor’s plan.
In contrast, Governor LePage’s budget provides 50 percent of the tax cut to the top 10 percent of taxpayers, while leaving a $300 million hole in the budget. A new analysis of the Governor’s plan in the Bangor Daily News shows that Maine schools will see their budgets cut in half by 2019 if the LePage budget passes.
In a press conference yesterday, Governor LePage conceded the point:
“I think there’s a quarter of a billion dollars being wasted in K-12 education alone,” LePage said, according to the Bangor Daily News.
Speaker Eves said the Governor’s statement and his budget should be a call to action for parents, students, teachers, and Maine businesses that rely on an educated and skilled workforce.
“As a father of three young children in our school system, I am extremely worried about the Governor’s plan to gut our schools,” said Eves. “This should be a call to action for every parent in our state. If you care about the future of our state and our children, pay attention. This is the other half of the story that LePage and his Republican allies don’t want you to know: Tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations are bankrupting states and crippling education investment across the country.”
Eves added, “Republican governors across the country have promised that deep income tax cuts, as part of ideologically driven economic programs, would result in strong economic growth and job creation. Yet the policies have not worked. The results are just the opposite -- huge budget holes and cuts to education.”
In Kansas, Republican Governor Sam Brownback pushed a similar tax plan through a few years ago and this year, he just announced $44 million cut to K-12 and public universities. In fact some schools in Kansas will be forced to close early because of the funding shortfall.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal similarly forced through huge cuts that were supposed to lead to a booming economy. However, Louisiana is $1.6 billion in debt and has cut education more than any other state in the country.
“Governor LePage's plan takes Maine in the wrong direction, and puts us on a path to becoming the next Kansas or Louisiana,” said Eves. “It’s bad news for Maine children, workers and families. That’s why Democrats are fighting for A Better Deal for Maine.”
Democratic leaders will be holding town hall meetings on the Better Deal for Maine in the coming weeks.