Does anyone listen to a word I say? Part 2

Does anyone listen to a word I say? Part 2

April 16, 2009 Posted by Maine Heritage Policy Center - No Comments

A couple of weeks ago, I observed that the legislature was contemplating the creation of exactly the same kind of regional education cooperatives I proposed two years ago.

Earlier this week, a battle broke out in the Education Committee around an issue I described in a report I wrote a year ago, which is the Department of Education’s practice of shifting the funding of its programs from its own General Fund account to the General Purpose Aid account, which is a shared account funded with both state and local dollars.

The Department has pursued this practice because it helps the Department to balance its own General Fund budget while reaching its voter-mandated 55% state share with less new money.

Sen David Trahan (R-Lincoln), has introduced a bill to outlaw this practice, LD 1126.  In its deliberations on the bill earlier this week, the committee was pretty hard on Commissioner Gendron, who argued gamely that the programs she’d moved to GPA really should be paid for, in part, by local property taxpayers.  The Committee wasn’t going for it, with Rep. Finch suggesting to the commissioner that the practice had undermined her credibility and the credibility of the legislature, which had approved the moves.

By the time it tabled the bill, the committee seemed to have decided that a subcommittee of some kind ought to be empaneled to determine which programs ought to be funded with GPA dollars and which should not, meaning more debate ahead…