Governor Skirts Law By Failing To Fund Education At Voter Mandated Levels
More proposed cuts could mean teacher layoffs, larger classes, increased property taxes
Every day Governor LePage shortchanges our public school students by not adequately funding education. As the Legislature convenes today to begin their work, they need to take a close look at education funding. Voters mandated the state fund 55% of the total cost of education, with property taxpayers to make up the difference. Since fiscal year 2008-2009, the state has failed to adequately fund education, shortchanging our schools nearly $525 million.
“The lack of funding has a huge impact on not only our schools and students but property taxpayers and the middle class. When the state doesn’t pay its fair share, property taxpayers are forced to make up the difference. The middle class is already struggling to survive. It is not right to push more onto their plates while the Governor skirts the law,” said Lois Kilby-Chesley, teacher and President of the Maine Education Association.
In addition to the lack of funding, the Governor is now calling for more cuts, nearly $13 million, to be eliminated from the Department of Education budget through the curtailment process.
“Our schools are already suffering. Teachers spend their own money to buy supplies, things like paper, because schools don’t have the money. Now, the Governor wants to take more; it is both unacceptable and ludicrous,” said Kilby-Chesley.
The curtailment order, issued by the Governor, will have real consequences on school districts around the state. Many districts will struggle to find ways to make deep cuts in the middle of the school year. Some of that cost could be passed on to taxpayers because school budgets are already set for the year and money is already allocated.
“Some school districts are talking about the possibility of teacher layoffs while at least one superintendent told her staff to wear sweaters instead of turning up the heat. Is this really the direction we are going in as a state, where we can’t even afford to keep our schools warm enough for our staff and students?” said Kilby-Chesley.
The state needs to stop taking from schools and start giving, as ordered by the law. Voters mandated the state pay 55% of the total cost of education for local districts. By skirting the law, public schools lost more than $500 million in funding since fiscal year 2009. “Our educators are continually doing more with less while the Governor berates public schools. He needs to take a good look in the mirror and ask himself: ‘Is this the kind of Maine our children deserve?’” said Kilby-Chesley.
Media Coverage on Education Funding Shortfalls