Read the full report | In 2004, Maine voters approved a citizen-initiated referendum calling on the state to fund “55 percent of the cost of public education.” The following spring, the legislature enacted LD 1, which put a process in place whereby the state would “ramp up” to a 55 percent state share by steadily increasing state funding for schools over four years.
Ongoing budget shortfalls have forced the state to cut back on the amount of increased school funding it once planned, however. Postponements of increased spending under the LD1 ramp-up were enacted last legislative session, and the governor recently ordered additional cutbacks as part of the recently-enacted supplemental budget and a prior state budget curtailment order. Further cuts in projected education spending are planned for FY 2010 and FY 2011 under the governor’s proposed biennial budget.
These actions have reignited debate about whether the voter-mandated goal of a 55 percent state share of school spending is achievable or even desirable. Missing from that debate is any real analysis of where state funding for schools stands right now.
By some measures, as it turns out, the state’s share of K-12 spending statewide is 55 percent or more already.