Daily Catch

Maine liberals oblivious of actual education funding requirements

on

Leave it to the editorial team at the Bangor Daily News to constantly promote the liberal agenda by misrepresenting facts and pushing false narratives to their readers. They did so a handful of times on the tip credit issue that consumed Augusta much of this legislative session. Now they’ve transitioned to education, where the logical grounding of their argument is just as unstable.

I feel I am beginning to sound like a broken record, but without these tactics, I fear they would not sell papers.

The BDN published an editorial on June 6 criticizing Maine House and Senate Republicans for their budget plans that repeal the surtax imposed by Question 2 and still reach the required public education funding threshold mandated by Maine voters via referendum in 2004.

Included in the editorial is – well, you guessed it – a complete misrepresentation of the statute that defines Maine’s education funding formula and a flurry of conclusions based on logical fallacies.

I think the politically correct term for this is “alternative facts.”

“The Senate Republican plan falls woefully short of what voters have twice demanded,” the BDN writes.

This just isn’t true.

The Senate Republicans’ plan offers $110 million in new revenues to public education and includes the cost of teacher retiree benefits toward the state’s share of funding, as outlined by state law, to reach the 55 percent requirement.

The BDN refers to this inclusion as an “accounting gimmick” and says the payments “were always meant to be made entirely by the state and separately from of the state’s school funding formula.”

It appears the BDN is unfamiliar with the statute that clearly defines this aspect of the state funding formula, which has been law since 2011.

The statute reads, “Beginning in fiscal year 2011-12, the annual targets for the state share percentage of the total cost of funding public education from kindergarten to grade 12 including the cost of the components of essential programs and services plus the state contributions to teacher retirement, retired teachers’ health insurance and retired teachers’ life insurance are as follows.”

Including these benefits toward the state’s share of education funding is not a far-reaching proposal unheard of by modern civilization as the BDN asserts. It is state law, and it has been ignored for almost as long as we’ve failed to meet the funding requirement.

If these additional payments, which are labor costs associated with the operation of Maine’s public schools, were included in the state’s share, Maine would be much closer to the 55 percent funding mark. Coupled with the $110 million in additional revenues, we would meet the requirement under the Senate Republicans’ plan.

Without the inclusion of retiree benefits and the additional revenues, Democrats can drone on forever about inadequate education funding and spin Question 2’s underwhelming support in November to match any narrative they see fit.

Unfortunately, so can the BDN.

Democrats have promised that the new surtax would generate up to $320 million in new revenues for the state, but this is quite literally a fairy tale. Instead, revenue forecasts are down and future projections are nowhere near their estimations. Simply put, there is no evidence that currently supports this claim or their assertion that the Republican plan would cut funding by $200 million.

Liberals would rather drive talent out of Maine with this surtax than address the state’s out of control, unsustainable education spending. They want to funnel non-existent surtax revenues into a system where only 59 cents of every dollar makes it into the classroom.

Increased spending does not correlate to better results for students or taxpayers. Throwing money at a broken system has not worked in Maine and it never will.

Student enrollment declined 11 percent from 2005 to 2017, yet somehow state spending increased by 28 percent while student performance remained stagnant at best.

Understanding the real facts, the only gimmick I see here is the credibility of the Maine Democrats and the BDN.

About Jacob Posik

Jacob Posik, of Turner, is a policy analyst for the Maine Heritage Policy Center. He can be reached at jposik@mainepolicy.org.

Recommended for you

Comments