Report Verifies Downward Trend in Maine’s Commitment to School Funding, Reinforces Case for Question 2

Maine general fund support for k-12 education remains more than three percent below pre-recession levels; referendum would raise over $150 million annually dedicated to schools

Augusta, Maine (Thursday, October 20, 2016) A new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) further substantiates Maine’s shrinking commitment to education, reinforcing the importance of passing Question 2 to increase funding for education by more than $150 million annually by levying a three percent tax on household income over $200,000.

“The CBPP report confirms that seven years after the end of the Great Recession, Maine’s general fund per capita education funding remains more than three percent lower than it was in 2008,” said MECEP Executive Director Garrett Martin. “Next year, Maine will lose $297 million in state revenue that would have been available for education because of income tax cuts enacted since 2011 that largely benefit wealthy households. Passage of Question 2 would restore $159 million in 2017 and fulfill the state’s voter-mandated obligation to fund 55 percent of the cost for k-12 education.”

The CBPP report, After Nearly a Decade, School Investments Still Way Down in Some States, contains the most recent data on school funding currently available. The findings are based on data gathered from state education agencies and budget offices, and verified with education finance experts in each state. The report also includes analysis of data from the Census Bureau.


“Mainers know that a first-rate education blazes the path to good jobs for them and their families,” Martin said. “Failure to invest in our schools puts Maine’s economy at risk as employers struggle to hire skilled workers and companies choose to invest in other states with a better educated workforce. MECEP’s research and analysis confirms that Question 2 will raise revenue crucial to expand equitable access to quality education for all Maine students and improve the fairness of our state and local tax system.”

Despite the voters’ 2004 55 percent funding mandate, the state’s share of education funding peaked at 52.86 percent in 2009 and has since declined to 47.18 percent for fiscal year 2017. Because of the state’s failure to meet its funding obligation, Maine communities have had to raise over a billion dollars in property taxes- an average of $180 million each year -to compensate for the state under-funding its share of education costs.  Question 2 would roll back the recent tax breaks for the wealthy and dedicate this revenue toward additional state level resources for schools.  

The CBPP report, After Nearly a Decade, School Investments Still Way Down in Some States, is available here.

MECEP’s analysis of Question 2, Moving Maine Students to the Head of the Class, is available here.