Commissioner’s Update – February 27, 2014

From the Maine DOE

2014 marks the 10th anniversary of Mainers voting to require that the State fund 55 percent of the cost of public education. While we in Augusta have worked toward meeting that mandate, we have struggled most years to get to even 50 percent. Due to other funding priorities – especially those related to health and human services – the Legislature simply cannot come up with the money.

As talk of growing Maine’s Medicaid program again swirls in the State House, I’m often asked for my assessment on the potential effects of expansion on education. As our Department’s longtime Director of School Finance and Operations and now its Commissioner, I can tell you I am deeply concerned about the negative impact to Maine schools of further growing this already unsustainable program.

What is particularly troubling to me is the amount of uncertainty that surrounds expansion at the federal level, making it difficult for states and individual departments like ours within those states to truly understand and prepare for the impact. However, if history is any guide, the effects would be significant.

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