Keeping an eye on education funding
As budget negotiations continue, I want you to know where I stand: I am fighting to ensure the budget respects the will of the voters and meets the state’s obligation to fully fund public schools. And I’m fighting efforts by some in the Legislature to force service cuts and tax increases on the vast majority of Mainers to pay for new handouts to a small number of the highest earners in our state.
To me, these goals seem universal. Unfortunately, I continue to hear and read in the newspapers that some Republicans in the Legislature are willing to hold the budget process hostage in an attempt to get a new tax cut for the wealthiest 2 percent, paid for by our public schools.
Voters in November approved a new education funding referendum that fully funded our schools for the first time in a decade by asking a little bit more from those Mainers who are most able to afford it.
The referendum is now law. But some legislators, including members of Republican leadership in the House and Senate, are threatening to torpedo the budget process and force a government shutdown if we don’t agree to undermine the voters’ will by repealing Question 2. They say they cannot accept a tax system that includes a small tax increase on the highest earnings of the top 2 percent.
All of us want lower taxes. But we have to consider the cost. I don’t believe it’s worth sacrificing our public schools or the integrity of our referendum process just so the wealthiest Mainers can have lower income taxes.
Democrats have submitted a responsible, comprehensive budget proposal that respects the will of the voters, fully funds our schools and lowers property taxes. We’ve led 25 Town Hall meetings throughout the state to bring our plan directly to the people.
In contrast, Republicans, so far, have done nothing but demand the repeal of Question 2.
The current state budget expires at midnight on the last day of June. The clock is ticking. I and my colleagues are ready to do the right thing for Mainers by passing a state budget that respects the will of the voters, fully funds education and preserves the progressivity of our tax system.
It’s time to get serious. No more games. No more brinksmanship. No more threats of a government shutdown. This new education funding was approved by a majority of Mainers. It is law. The next budget must respect that.
As always, never hesitate to reach out to me. You can call my office at 207-287-1515 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you.
Sen. Troy Jackson (D-Allagash is majority leader of the Maine Senate. He can be reached at either 398-4081 (home) or 436-0763 (cell), or via email at SenTroy.Jackson@legislature.maine.gov.