If you’re from the town of Sebago, Lincolnville, Greenwood, Bremen, Newry, Machiasport, or Jonesport, Question 2 should worry you immensely. You see, while many people are talking about the 130 Maine communities that won’t receive an additional cent under this tax increase for education, seven of those towns will actually lose funding.
That’s right, in spite of the fact that some of these towns have unemployment rates above the state average and more than half have an average median household income below the state average, they will lose thousands of dollars in education funding under Question 2.
Although proponents such as John Kosinski with the Maine Education Association claim that Question 2 will be the great equalizer in education funding, that simply isn’t true because the EPS formula used to determine municipal funding for education only accounts for the land wealth of a community. The formula fails to address the actual ability of the citizens to pay for education because it doesn’t consider unemployment rates or the median household income of a community.
So, by simply funneling additional funds into the existing system, 130 communities such as Greenville and Acton, towns that really need additional resources to level the playing field, will be left in the cold.
And if you live in one of those seven communities, your children will receive less funding under the EPS formula than you do without this additional tax on small businesses.
So where will the money go? Sixty percent of the funding raised by Question 2 would go to only 12 percent of towns. The fourteen towns that stand to receive a total of $22 million including Falmouth, Cape Elizabeth and Yarmouth that have an annual median household income in excess of $70,000 and extremely low unemployment levels.
While proponents of the initiative defend this disparity and believe it to be fair, I don’t think that anyone will argue that Cape Elizabeth, a town that spends above and beyond the EPS formula to provide their students with the very best K-12 education their tax dollars can give are deserving of millions in additional funding while poverty stricken towns such as Greenville, that are struggling to meet the basics, deserve nothing.
Even worse, who would argue that Jonesport, a town with over 20 percent unemployment and a median household income $15,471 below the state average, deserves less funding.
The argument that Question 2 will level the playing field for Maine’s students doesn’t pass the straight face test.
For a full list of the 130 towns that will receive no additional funding, calculated with data from the Department of Education, view The Maine Heritage Policy Center’s latest report at www.mainepolicy.org.