Governor Mills History-Making Budget Proposal Supports Maine PreK-12 Schools

Yesterday Governor Mills unveiled her Administration’s Part 2 budget for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022-2023 biennium, a proposal that makes a historic investment in Maine public schools and meets the State’s obligation to pay 55 percent of the cost of PreK-12 education for the first time in Maine’s history.

If approved by the Legislature, the achievement would come more than fifteen years after Maine voters first passed a referendum directing State government to pay 55 percent of local school costs. The Governor’s proposal would not only meet the State’s obligation for the first time ever, but would also increase desperately-needed resources for cash-strapped schools and hold down local property taxes.

Additionally, her proposal includes $50 million to rejuvenate the School Revolving Renovation Fund, which provides no-interest loans for school repairs across the state. This would be Governor Mills’ second investment in the fund, extending her commitment to upgrading Maine’s school facilities and providing further property tax relief for Maine families.

Further information and the revised subsidy amount, based on the proposed budget increases, will be forthcoming. We are hopeful that the Legislature will support this proposal, on behalf of Maine schools and the students you serve.

“Today is a historic day for students, educators, and the people of Maine. For more than 15 years, educators around the state have called for 55 percent State funding for our schools. The purpose was to ensure a basic level of funding for our public schools, so we can have well-resourced public schools available to all children, regardless of their zip codes, while also keeping property taxes in check,” said Grace Leavitt, President of the Maine Education Association. “The proposal from Governor Mills today finally recognizes what the voters demanded in 2004 and then again in 2016, via ballot initiatives. The people have spoken, and Governor Mills is delivering – for Maine’s students, for our communities, and for our educators. The MEA applauds the Governor’s proposal.  We look forward to celebrating this historic achievement once it is passed by the Legislature and to continuing to work with the Department of Education and other education organizations to support our students and public education in Maine.”

“Today’s announcement exemplifies the kind of leadership and commitment to education that Maine students deserve from their Governor,” said Eileen King, Executive Director of Maine School Superintendents Association. “Governor Mills is upholding a promise and the will of Maine people to support and prioritize our schools. This will have both immediate and long-term benefits for our schools, communities and students, and demonstrates the importance of delivering on our promises and investing in our future.”

“This is incredible news for School Boards who have been working on budgets and trying to do the right thing for students, staff and our taxpayers,” said Steven Bailey, Executive Director of the Maine School Boards Association. “The Governor’s decision to fully fund the State share couldn’t have come at a better time. We know there are people in our communities who have always supported their local schools, but saw their income drop this year because of COVID-19.  This additional support for education from the state will be greatly welcomed.”

“Immediately upon taking office, Governor Mills made Maine’s public education system a top priority, investing in a minimum teacher salary of $40,000, increasing the State’s contribution to offset local education costs, and allocating millions of dollars to local schools for pandemic response. The Mills Administration has championed equity and excellence for all students while elevating professional respect and opportunities for educators and school leaders,” said Pender Makin, Commissioner for the Department of Education. “Today, at a time when the value of local public education has never been more clear, we move to a bold and unprecedented commitment of funding as Governor Mills aims to become the first and only leader to achieve Maine’s long-sought goal of 55 percent contribution to the total cost of pre-K through grade 12 public education. For nearly two decades, the incremental funding targets shifted, extending the timeline further into the future with each biennium, leaving a disproportionate cost for local taxpayers. Today, with this historic announcement, Governor Mills fulfills a long overdue promise to Maine students and schools – and to the communities they serve.”