Democratic lawmaker proposes education funding bill
PORTLAND (WGME) – Governor Janet Mills says one of her priorities this year is to fully fund education in Maine.
State Senator Ben Chipman, of Portland, is proposing a bill that would implement a referendum passed by Mainers two years ago. He says the bill would provided the needed funds.
Sen. Chipman's bill would increase state aid to public schools by instituting a surcharge of three percent on state income taxes for people earning above $200,000 a year.
Maine voters approved the measure, but republican leaders refused to implement it.
Despite increased funding for education, Sen. Chipman says the state still hasn't reached the voter-approved 55 percent funding level for schools.
"I'd like to see us find education at 55 percent in the new budget if that's possible,” Sen. Chipman said. “And obviously the revenue has to come from somewhere to do that. So we need to look at everything and give everything some equal consideration."
Republicans remain opposed to raising the income tax to Maine’s top earners, fearing a new tax will drive them out of the state.
"The $200,000 plus people that are earning that income. They're the people we want in this state," Senate Republican Leader Dana Dow said. "They're valuable to this state. And we've got to remember one thing about them. They can vote with their feet and leave. And we don't want that."