Commentary

It’s Not About the Children, It’s About the Union

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The Maine Education Association is putting a dishonest initiative on the November ballot. They call it “Stand Up for Students,” but it is just another attempt to extort more taxes from Maine families and businesses without improving education.

It is difficult to explain to Mainers that the K-through-12 education system has more than enough funding to give our students a proper education. Whenever the MEA wants more money, they just tug on parents’ heartstrings and say, “It’s for the children.”

Everyone supports children, and everyone supports funding for education. The problem is not money. The problem is the union bosses at MEA don’t put the money where it belongs. They want to increase pay for underperforming teachers; they refuse to reduce administrative costs; and they want to increase your property taxes.

The MEA complains the state does not fund 55 percent of local school costs. They don’t tell you it’s superintendents who decide what those costs are, and they keep moving the goal posts. There is no way the state can catch up.

With a total education budget of almost $3 billion, it is unconscionable that teachers and students have to spend their own money to buy notebooks, pens and pencils. Even worse, student enrollment in Maine has decreased by 25,000 students over the past two decades, despite the fact that pre-kindergarten has been added to public school enrollment.

Just in the last decade, the number of students has declined by 13 percent—but spending has increased by 18 percent. Despite this increase in spending, school performance has been stagnant. Mainers deserve to know why their local school budgets are going up every year, but academic results are not getting better. The MEA can’t answer that question. They just want more money.

They want to add a 3 percent tax on Maine’s families and small businesses who earn $200,000 to raise money that is not needed for education.

They say it will only affect 2 percent of Mainers. These are the Mainers who already contribute the most revenue to our economy and our tax base. It would drive their income tax rate over 10 percent—and it might drive them out of the state.

We’ve worked hard to reduce the income tax, but the MEA is taking us backwards. Instead of punishing our higher-income earners, they should be working to make the education system more efficient and more effective.

Instead of building lavish new schools, they should be considering how to combine schools or regionalize services.

Instead of paying for a top-heavy system of administrators, they should be paying our teachers more and putting more money into the classroom.

Don’t be fooled, folks. The Maine Education Association has no desire to reform education. They don’t want better academic results or lower costs for taxpayers. Their sole purpose is to confiscate union dues from teachers’ paychecks to bankroll political campaigns and send more socialists to Augusta.

So remember, when MEA says they want to tax you more, it’s not for the children—it’s for the union bosses.

About Paul LePage

Governor Paul LePage (R) has served as the 74th Governor of Maine since 2011. Prior to his time as governor, LePage served as the general manager of Marden's and as the mayor of Waterville.

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