AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage once again called on Democrats today to stop hurting the livelihoods of teachers, low-income earners, students, small and large businesses by refusing to enact tax conformity unless it is tied to an additional windfall in education spending, which would be over and above the significant increase already in the current budget.
The Democrats want to raid the Budget Stabilization Fund for $23 million in additional education spending before they approve tax conformity, even though education spending has already increased by $80 million over the last budget.
“The Democrats are holding tax conformity for ransom by tying it to education funding, which is totally unrelated,” said Governor LePage. “They are raiding $23 million from the rainy day fund to deny teachers, low-income earners, students and small and large Maine businesses the tax refunds they deserve. There’s no reason to pay ransom for tax conformity. The Democrats are either for it or against it. If they think tax conformity is good for the Maine people-which it is-they should vote for it. If Democrats disagree with President Obama and think Maine taxpayers do not deserve the same tax refund the federal government is giving them, they should just vote against it.”
In school year 2016-17, state spending is $114 million higher than it was in the LePage administration’s first budget for the 2010-11 school year.
School spending from the state is now $150 million higher than the 2005-06 school year-an 18% increase. In the same period, student population has declined by over 25,000 students-a 13% decrease.
In this biennium, Governor LePage added $40 million over last year. The Legislature added another $40 million. School spending is up $80 million over the last biennium alone. Now the Democrats want to seize $23 million more, which would be a $100 million increase over last biennium.