Vote yes on Question 2

Printed in the Lewiston Sun Journal – August 14, 2016

Life can be unfair — and it sure isn’t fair right now when it comes to taxes in Maine. Do you know that if you make $40,000 or $1,000,000 you’re taxed at the same rate?

Now, let’s look at how school funding works: The state and the voters made a promise to fund education at 55 percent. The state hasn’t met this promise so the burden got shifted to the towns and the cities. The only way they could try to close the gap is through property taxes. Wealthy towns could do it; less affluent towns couldn’t. The losers in this “give breaks to the wealthy” mentality are students.

Most towns and cities can’t afford to increase property taxes to make up for the gap created by empty promises. So, while the gap grows, Augusta keeps giving a tax break to the wealthiest 2 percent.

Question 2 asks them to pay their fair share on behalf of students all across the state. Question 2 puts $157 million back into public education. If Question 2 passes, the wealthiest Mainers will be paying a bit more — 3 percent on every $1,000 over $200,000. That’s $30 on $1,000.

Auburn, for example, will receive $2,784,294 and Lewiston, $3,154,086. That money can only be used for direct classroom instruction, including teachers, school nurses and other critical public school personnel. Not for testing or administrators. The money goes directly into classrooms, where it will do the most good.

I hope others will join with me and vote “yes” on Question 2 on Nov. 8

 

Carl Bucciantini, Greene

Support Question 2 in November for rural Maine students

Printed in the Machias Valley News Observer – August 13, 2016

 

To the Editor:

I support Question 2 on the November ballot as a way to help

close the opportunity gap for Maine students when it comes to the

quality of their education.

 

Regardless of what ZIP code a Maine child lives in, Maine students

deserve the right to a fully funded education that will prepare them

for a rapidly changing local and global world.

For the pas 16 years, I have been an early childhood educator at

a rural coastal elementary school in Washington County. During

my time as an educator, the issues of poverty and despair over an

uncertain future have slowly made their way into the hallways,

classrooms and onto the playgrounds of our Washington County

schools.

 

I look at Question 2, which would bring $157 million to public

schools each year by adding a 3 percent surcharge on households

making over $200,000 per year, as a way to help address these

issues.

 

The money generated could allow schools to hire guidance

counselors, school nurses and mental health professionals. With

the impact of poverty and the rise of opiate and heroin addiction in

our Maine communities, more Maine children are coming into our

schools having experienced some form of trauma. Maine students

deserve the right to have access to a guidance counselor, school

nurse, and mental health consultant no matter the ZIP Code of

their school.

 

I support Question 2 because of what I see in the classroom

everyday and what I know the future could hold for our Maine

children.

 

Suzen Polk-Hoffses

Jonesport

 

Vote yes on 2

Printed in the Bangor Daily News – August 12, 2016

Vote yes on Question 2

I implore my fellow community members to join me in voting yes on Question 2this November to provide more funding for public education. As an elementary public school teacher in Belfast, I have seen the effects firsthand of the state’s failure to fund public schools to the promised rate of 55 percent. The severely underfunded system has led to a lack of access to basic classroom consumable supplies, fewer quality professional development opportunities for staff and severe cuts to necessary staff and programs for our schools.

Despite local school board and community members’ best efforts, the burden to fund this budget shortfall gap has fallen to our local property taxpayers. But we have a solution to our funding dilemma. Question 2 proposes a 3 percent surtax on annual income over $200,000, which would generate approximately $157 million annually for public education. This money would go directly to support public education, and it is a sound investment in our children and our future.

It’s time for our schools to be fully funded, as was promised more than a decade ago, and a “yes” vote on Question 2 will do exactly that. Every child in Maine deserves a great public school educational experience, regardless of their ZIP code. A “yes” vote on Question 2 will ensure access to the promised funding for public schools and would create much needed property tax relief in our rural towns. Please join me as I stand up for students in support of a “yes” vote on referendum Question 2.

Beth French

Teacher

RSU 71

Searsport

Maine schools need more resources that translate into greater achievement

Printed in the Bangor Daily News – August 31, 2016

By Flynn Ross, Special to the BDN

Maine people value education. In 2003, more than 72 percent of voters said yes to the state funding 55 percent of the cost of public education.

But since 2008, the state share has declined to 46.6 percent. This matters because state funding of schools is a more equitable way to finance education than through widely varying property taxes in each community. State funding has the potential to improve education for Maine as a whole, and it keeps us out of legal battles about inequitable school funding that have plagued many other states. Alternatively, reducing state funding for schools puts an undue burden on local communities that have to raise local taxes or cut services in order to make up the difference for what the state is obligated to contribute.

Clearly, some communities are better able than others to absorb these cuts by raising local property taxes. That’s why state funding cuts can significantly increase differences in per-pupil school spending, further reinforcing the reality that where children grow up — their ZIP code — has a greater influence on the quality of their education and their future than other factors. Per-pupil spendingin some parts of Maine — such as on Mount Desert Island ($21,985 in MSAD 76) and Isleboro ($25,375) — is nearly three times greater than elsewhere in the state ($8,802 in Machias and $8,782 in Orrington).

Investments in education targeted to reach students from families in poverty can increase lifetime earnings by 25 percent and decrease poverty in adulthood by 20 percent, according to research published by the National Bureau of Economic Research. This, then, should be a primary focus for the newly formedCommission to Reform Public Education Funding and Improve Student Performance in Maine.

This commission, which is focused on Maine’s school funding formula, has the potential for huge impacts on local communities. The first public meeting was held Monday at York County Community College in Wells. The public needs to keep an eye on the data and hold our public policymakers accountable.

There were more than 30 members of the public present Monday with three television news channels and 12 of the 15 commission members present at this first meeting held in public session. The commission meeting materials postedfor the April 25 meeting that was not open to the public report that school funding in Maine has increased 26 percent in the last 10 years, but that’s because those figures don’t take inflation into account. When adjusted for inflation, funding has actually decreased by more than $1.9 million, or 0.7 percent.

Another group called Educate Maine, a statewide, business-led coalition, has committed to increasing educational outcomes for all Maine children irrespective of ZIP code. Educate Maine plans to soon release a second policy brief. The group is advocating for seven strategies to improve career and college readiness for Maine students. Each strategy has several related policy proposals designed to create a comprehensive approach to improving education in Maine with a focus on narrowing the achievement gap between students living in poverty and their more economically advantaged peers. The proposals in this document will be research-based. For example, the document cites research from University of Maine economist Philip Trostel that demonstrates that a $26,200, per-student investment in preschool education can result in $140,000 in taxpayer lifetime benefits, for a 434 percent rate of return. That’s a good investment!

The Educate Maine policy recommendations illustrate a comprehensive approach to ensuring success for our future generations from prenatal care to family and caretaker support, health care, quality early childhood and K-12 schooling, along with high-quality summer programs. These targeted investments would cost $4,230 more per child in poverty as calculated by a task force at Teachers College at Columbia University.

One opportunity for increasing resources for our schools is a ballot initiative this fall, Question 2, which calls for households earning over $200,000 per year to pay $30 of every $1,000 earned above $200,000. It is calculated that this would generate an additional $157 million annually. This initiative could help address some of the need for resources in our schools.

There is great consensus from public officials, researchers and citizens that investment in our public education system is important. The challenges are to utilize these resources most effectively and equitably to ensure that the state as a whole is able to move forward in its educational attainment.

Flynn Ross, Ed.D. is associate professor of teacher education and coordinator of the Extended Teacher Education Program at the University of Southern Maine. She is co-leader of the Maine chapter of the Scholars Strategy Network, which brings together scholars across the country to address public challenges and their policy implications. Members’ columns appear in the BDN every other week.

Restore education funding

Printed in the Bangor Daily News – August 30, 2016

Restore education funding

Question 2 on the November ballot will let voters restore some of the education funding that has been cut from the Maine budget in the last few years. These cuts have led to inadequate school budgets in many places and an increase in local property taxes — the worst of both worlds. Even more troubling, these sharp cuts were made despite the voters’ 2004 mandate that the state should pay 55 percent of local education costs.

Question 2 helps Maine schools by adding a small, 3 percent surtax on annual income over $200,000. This money may be used only for support of local schools and classroom instruction, not for administration.

I’m grateful that Democratic state Sen. Geoff Gratwick of Bangor took the time to explain this to me, though I wasn’t surprised given his strong support of education and the fact that he comes from a family of teachers.

Catherine Dickerson

Bangor

Vote yes on 2 to support career and technical education

Printed in the Courier Gazette & Camden Herald, September 8, 2016

By Carol Pelletier | Sep 08, 2016

Career and Technical Education is at the forefront of preparing youth and adults to succeed in fast-growing, high-paying jobs that are important to our local and state economy. Students enrolled in CTE programs learn the occupational skills and knowledge that focus on career readiness and attaining national industry and state standards.

By 2020, approximately two thirds of all jobs will require some post-secondary education — a certificate, credential, or degree at the associate level or higher (Carnevale, 2013). Career and technical education at one of our 27 centers and/or regions in Maine can help bridge the gap between high school, post-secondary education and the workplace.

A “yes” vote on Question 2 will help provide funding to a seriously underfunded area of education in Maine, a 16 percent increase for our career and technical programs! Students need the option to obtain diplomas through multiple pathways. Many find success at their career and technical schools for the practical and relevant education that they are receiving.

Each of the centers/regions across the state is providing students with the technical education they need and providing the state of Maine with the skilled workers it needs. Right now, the state’s CTE enrollment stands at roughly 8,000 students. Many more want to enroll, but the programs are at capacity and can’t accommodate any more. Funding for CTE has remained the same since 2003. That’s no new funding in 18 years. An entire generation of students has grown up in that time.

Our students need us to do better. Our state needs us to do better. Voting “yes” on 2 will be a giant leap forward in helping give those young people who want it the career and technical education they need.

First and foremost, as an educator, I see the need for vibrant programs that offer marketable skills to high school juniors and seniors. Career and technical education offers youth the opportunity to try different professions and understand the rigors of these careers.

Over the last 20 years, I have been awarded the most incredible opportunity to see young people flourish. For the first time in their educational careers, they have found success. It is rewarding to see these students benefit from the training and skills provided by our regions and centers.

These students have achieved certifications and college credit that many thought impossible. I’ve received letters from students, parents and academic educators thanking me for the success of these young people. I only share in their success. Much of it stems from allowing these students to take part in a different way of learning that is action-oriented and relevant.

Second, as a small-business owner, I recognize the importance of having skilled and trained workers. I have witnessed firsthand the employability of these students by area restaurants, hospitals and caterers. Area businesses looking for prospective employees contact us first, knowing that we can provide the skilled labor they require.

Career and technical education is good for our kids, our community, our state and our future here in Maine.

Carol Pelletier, MS.Ed., is a baking and pastry instructor at Mid-Coast School of Technology in Rockland.

Question 2 worth supporting

Printed in the Lewiston Sun Journal – September 1, 2016

Question 2 on the Nov. 8 ballot says, “Do you want to add a 3 percent tax on individual Maine taxable income above $200,000 to create a state fund that would provide direct support for student learning in kindergarten through 12th grade public education.”

Question 2 on the Nov. 8 ballot says, “Do you want to add a 3 percent tax on individual Maine taxable income above $200,000 to create a state fund that would provide direct support for student learning in kindergarten through 12th grade public education.”

If the question told the whole story, voters would know that the state has failed to fund education at 55 percent, required by a vote of the people in 2004, and that failure has hurt Maine students.

If the ballot question showed even more, voters would know that many communities can’t make up the difference by increasing property taxes because the money just isn’t there. So programs or services have had to be cut.

It is time to invest more in Maine’s children, because a strong education means a strong work force.

Voters should look at Question 2 as full of potential for the students in this state.

Crystal Ward, Lewiston

Yes on 2

Printed in the Republican Journal – September 8, 2016

I am a taxpayer and mother of three, two of whom are still in the public school system. I also am proud to represent Belfast on the Regional School Unit 71 Board of Directors.

We are a district of over 1,600 students, more than 60 percent of whom qualify for free and reduced lunch. Each year the struggle to pass a school budget becomes increasingly real as our local property owners are consistently asked to take on a greater and greater responsibility to fund our schools as the state has failed to do. In 2003, Maine voters passed a referendum requiring public education to be funded at 55% percent from the state — it has never happened. Question 2 is a real plan to help close the gap and properly fund our schools. It works like this: the top 2 percent of income earners in Maine pay a little bit more, $30 per thousand after the first $200,000 [of income].

For those who would say, “Why should those who have worked hard be penalized for it?” I would point out that many have worked equally as hard and simply don’t make the same income and have not received the tax breaks that the highest income brackets have.

Question 2 is a plan that would actually create more parity in taxes than currently exists. As an example, someone making $40,000 and someone else making $1 million would pay the same tax rate, instead of the person making $1 million actually paying a lower rate.

At the end of the day this is about giving our students what they need and Question 2 will put approximately $157 million back into our classrooms.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Kofi Annan said, “Education is a human right with immense power to transform. On its foundation rest the cornerstones of freedom, democracy and sustainable human development.”

Please consider supporting and voting Yes on 2 in November to make that human right a right for all Maine children.

Allison Goscinski

Belfast

Portland School Committee Stands Up For Students-Endorses Question 2

Yes on 2 with SUFS Blue BG BLOCK

Portland School Committee voted unanimously to endorse a Yes On 2 vote, for tax fairness and greater opportunity in Portland schools

PORTLAND, ME | September 12, 2016 – The Portland School Committee is the latest municipal board to Stand Up for Students by passing a resolution in support of Question 2 on Maine’s November ballot.

Do you want to add a 3% tax on individual Maine taxable income above $200,000 to create a state fund that would provide direct support for student learning in kindergarten through 12th grade public education?

The resolution notes, “when the state fails to pay its share of school funding, our children and our communities suffer, as towns have to make up the difference, often by raising property taxes, cutting services, or both.”

Question 2 is the solution to the problem of the state failing to meet its obligation to fund 55% of the cost of public education. This failure has resulted in municipalities having to either fill the funding gap through increased property taxes or cut their local education budgets, reducing the opportunities for students. Children in less affluent communities suffer this loss of opportunity acutely.

School board Chair Marnie Morrione noted that Question 2 is supported by groups including the Maine Children’s Alliance, the Maine PTA, the Maine Association of School Libraries, other municipal boards, and legislators around the state.

By endorsing a “Yes” vote on Question 2, the Portland School Committee is promoting a future where every Maine child receives a great education at a great public school regardless of zip code.