2017-05-26 / Letters

Question 2 needs our support

To the editor:

Last November, a majority of Maine voters voted in favor of Question 2, a citizen’s initiative to increase statewide funding of schools to 55 percent.

In fact, Question 2 got more votes than either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.

By way of background, in 2004, voters in Maine passed an initiative requiring the state to fund 55 percent of the cost of public education.

The state hasn’t ever funded this mandate and the cost of public schools has been shouldered by local property taxes. Question 2 provides a funding mechanism to bring school financing to 55 percent througha3percentsurtaxontaxableincome over $200,000.

So what’s going on with the funding of Question 2? Currently the state’s taxation committee is considering changing Question 2. There are six bills that either eliminate Question 2 or alter it significantly. In all cases, these changes would void the will of the people and could provide less money for our schools.

It is important to know what’s at stake here. If Question 2 were funded, educational funding could increase statewide by about $165 million. Based upon preliminary data I have seen from the State Department of Revenue, RSU 21 could receive as much as $4 million under the existing EPS formula. However, there are many variables that could affect that number both up and down.

The obvious way to meet the 55 percent threshold is to implement Question 2. The extra money we receive would greatly reduce the amount of money that our schools are currently asking our three communities to pay. That’s how we get to property tax relief.

The RSU 21 school board wisely understands that the taxpayers here are very supportive of the schools, but are really struggling with property taxes. Last month the school board passed a warrant article, which, if voters approve, means that any additional money RSU 21 gets from the state will be shifted back to the towns to be used by the selectboards to either lower local property taxes or for municipal investments.

If you support Question 2 and want to bring education funding to 55 percent and take the pressure off property taxes, you should contact our area legislators now and make your position known.

Our legislators are Sen. Ronald Collins, Sen. Susan Deschambault, Rep. Christopher Babbidge, Rep. Steadman Seavey and Rep.Wayne Parry. You can find their contact information at www.legislature. maine.gov.

Tom McClain

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