No Communities Will Lose Education Funding as a Result of Question 2

October 19, 2016 by
Garrett Martin blog 11-16-2015

Garrett Martin

Don’t be deceived Sebago, Lincolnville, Greenwood, Bremen, Newry, Machiasport, and Jonesport. Despite Maine Heritage Policy Center’s (MHPC) bogus claim, a “Yes” vote on Question 2 will not cause you to lose education funding. In fact, you likely stand to gain funding if Question 2 passes.

Towns that lose education funding do so when they have a drop in student enrollment or an increase in property values. Question 2  does not change that.

What Question 2 will do is make more resources available to communities throughout Maine. This includes low property valuation towns with limited capacity to absorb the tremendous education cost shift to property taxpayers in Maine over the last several years as the state has handed out income tax cuts to wealthy Mainers at the expenses of funding for schools and other local services.

While it is true that some communities representing less than 6% of Maine students are not likely to get any additional funding as a result of Question 2, these are property rich towns that, on average are already spending significantly more per student – 45% on average – than the baseline funding level the state funding formula requires. Furthermore, these towns are able to allocate these funds with property tax rates that are significantly below the statewide average property tax rate. They also rely heavily on taxes paid by non-resident property owners to do this. By comparison all other districts are spending just 10% above the baseline funding level on average and have raised property taxes just to keep pace. For the most part, these increases affect a higher proportion of primary homeowners and small businesses than in property rich towns. It is these troubling trends that Question 2 seeks to address.

Ultimately, more than 94% of Maine students will benefit from an average $918 per student increase in funding per year if Question 2 passes.

The state will distribute these funds through Maine’s school funding formula which national experts have recognized as one of the most equitable in the country. Sure, as opponents of Question 2 are quick to point out, some towns in southern Maine will get more money in total than other towns in the state, but that’s because they have more students.

No one will lose education funding as a result of Question 2. That’s a fact!

Indeed, most, if not all, of the towns MHPC identified as losing education funding will likely get additional funding if Question 2 passes. That’s because they are members of other districts that will see an increase in funding. For example, Bremen is part of the Great Salt Bay Community School District which, based on the current formula, would get $447,000 more. Greenwood and Newry are part of RSU44 which would get $639,000 more. Sebago is part of RSU61 which would get $1.5 million more. Jonesport is part of Moosabec Community School District which would get $88,000 more.

Updated on October 24, 2016.

(Stay tuned for more fact-based analysis from MECEP about the impacts of Question 2 for Maine students and communities in the coming week. To read our initial analysis of Question 2 including a summary of how Maine’s school funding formula works see “Moving Maine Students to the Head of the Class”)

One Response to “No Communities Will Lose Education Funding as a Result of Question 2”
  1. Nancy Hudak says:

    Being a member of a school system doesn’t mean much for individual towns as they calculate their own mil rates. Once the EPS recommended amount for the system is determined, each town has to figure out their mandated contribution in order to receive the town’s state subsidy, plus any additional they wish to approve (based on school committee/board recommendations). Any town’s contribution to an RSU or SAD is based on state-calculated property valuations, not how much the school system spends.

    I am still concerned – and haven’t seen anything about this yet – that cities and towns will cut their own contributions in order to lower the local property tax rates. If that’s allowed (and I can’t see that it isn’t in the proposed legislation), schools may be receiving very little of the additional monies promised by the referendum’s supporters. See Mayor Strimling’s statement here: http://www.wcsh6.com/news/politics/voice-of-the-voter/question-2-battle-intensifies/337528766

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