AUGUSTA – On Monday, the Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee voted in favor of several line items in the budget change package, including funding K-12 public schools at 55 percent, and increasing revenue sharing to 4.5 percent for 2022 and 5 percent for 2023. All of today’s committee votes were unanimous, 12-0.
Senate President Troy Jackson, Speaker of the House Ryan Fecteau and the House and Senate chairs of the Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee released the following statements celebrating the elements of the budget voted on today:
President Troy Jackson:
“The reality is that Maine’s budget is a statement about what we value. With the funding measures passed by the AFA Committee today, we say loud and clear that the Maine Legislature supports our public schools, students, teachers and hardworking property taxpayers. Maine voters have told us in no uncertain terms that the state needs to be doing its part to take care of our schools and help local government. It’s high time we kept that promise.”
Speaker Ryan Fecteau:
“Today’s vote has been 17 years in the making; Maine voters went to the polls back in 2004, overwhelmingly voting in favor of a referendum requiring the state to fund 55 percent of the cost of local education. I want to commend the Appropriations Committee for their shared commitment to education funding and for providing critical support to our municipalities, support that will directly impact property taxpayers.”
Senator Cathy Breen:
“After too many years of increased pressure on the property tax, AFA voted today to fully fund the state’s share of public education and municipal revenue sharing. This is a historic investment made possible by prudent stewardship of state tax revenues. It speaks volumes that legislators on both sides of the political aisle agree on how important these measures are.”
Representative Teresa Pierce:
“We are crafting a thoughtful, fiscally responsible budget that provides historic support to our towns and to education for Maine kids. Today, our committee voted to meet the state’s obligation to cover 55 percent of local education costs for the first time in Maine’s history. I want to thank the hundreds of Mainers who weighed in during our public hearings. That impacted the elements we voted in today and confirms this budget will reflect the shared values of Maine people.”
Municipal leaders also released statements on today’s news specific to revenue sharing and education funding:
Mayor Anne-Marie Mastraccio of Sanford, representing the Mayors’ Coalition:
“Revenue sharing is an important partnership between the state and municipalities that recognizes the important services provided through local government and the limits imposed by the State on municipal authority to raise revenues. Revenue sharing therefore is a key tool in keeping property taxes in check, while allowing for the funding of basic services including public safety and adequate school budgets.”
Peggy Rice, MSEA-SEIU Local 1989:
“State-municipal revenue sharing is a proven and effective way to ensure that cities and towns are able to provide necessary services to their communities. It is critical that we restore revenue sharing, which will allow municipalities to provide important services to Mainers.”
Mayor Michael Foley of Westbrook, representing the Mayors’ Coalition:
“When the state underfunds education, it causes municipalities to cut other areas within our budgets and/or increase property taxes as in the example shared. With improvements in education funding and municipal revenue sharing, this will help our communities to better manage growth in the property tax and allow us to continue to deliver critical services without drastic impacts.”
Neal Goldberg, Maine Municipal Association:
“The largest municipal expenditure is funding the local share of K-12 education. Depending on the portion provided by the state, the municipal share can consume over half of all property tax revenue. This heavy tax burden leaves municipalities with limited resources to provide the remaining services that their residents require. If the state meets its obligatory 55 percent commitment for K-12 education, municipalities could redirect funding to improve other vital services.”
Maine voters passed a referendum in 2004 requiring the state to contribute 55 percent of funding for K-12 public schools. The state has not yet fully met this funding requirement.
Between 2015 and 2019, revenue sharing decreased from 5 percent to 2 percent. This decrease meant that funding for essential municipal services — such as police and fire departments, winter plowing and schools — fell more to property taxpayers. Revenue sharing was increased in the last biennial budget, but has not yet been restored to the full 5 percent.
An overview of the budget proposal or “change package” from Gov. Janet Mills that was presented in May can be found here. The Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee and the full Legislature will take further votes on the budget over the coming weeks.