Initiative would aid RSU 29

7 years ago

To the editor:

It is with great excitement that I encourage you to vote ”Yes” on citizen’s initiative No. 2, “An Act To Establish The Fund to Advance Public Kindergarten to Grade 12 Education.” The passage of this question will enact real and lasting funding of public education in our state, allowing countless schools to provide fair learning opportunities for all students.

Aroostook County is slated to gain nearly $7M from the passage of this question, of which nearly $650K will come directly to RSU 29; this means that we would have the real opportunity to staff our district in a way that is best for kids, without worrying about rising property taxes. — In fact, there is the real potential to see property tax easement from the passage of this question.—

It’s important to remember that in the mid-2000s the voters of Maine decided that public education should be funded at 55 percent by state government funds. This expectation has — never been met, and the state of Maine is now over $1B (that’s right, billion) — behind — in their funding of public education. This deficit — in addition to the Governor’s policy of defunding public education — has led to the increase in local property taxes.

I feel it’s important to make sure that you, the voters, understand the following about Question 2, as there is a great deal of misinformation out there about it:

– It establishes a 3 percent tax on any — personal income — earned that is in excess of $200K; if you make less than $200K after all deductions and credits, you pay nothing additional. This — does not affect — any business income — it only impacts personal income.

– The proceeds from this tax will be held in a dedicated account that is separate from the General Fund. — What Governor LePage is claiming is false; — this money will only be accessible to schools as a supplement to what they already receive from state funding.

– Districts are prohibited from using these funds to hire additional school administration; the funds must only be used to impact “direct student instruction.”

It is the opinion of many teachers in RSU 29 that some of our classrooms are overpopulated; the money collected from the wealthiest Mainers will help our community to hire additional staff that will ease this burden on the learning climate of our children, giving them a fair chance at success.

I encourage you to vote “Yes” on question 2; it is time for more tax fairness in our state, and it is time that the public education of our students takes center stage. Please enact this law for Maine’s brightest future — the youth of our communities.

Jason A. Anderson, M.M., M.Ed.
Resident (and educator) of Houlton