Home > MSMA News > Budget offering $162 million for GPA and tax relief up for vote today – June 30, 2017
Budget offering $162 million for GPA and tax relief up for vote today – June 30, 2017
A special committee put forward a state budget last night that increases state aid to schools by $162 million over the next two years – half of which must be used to reduce property taxes – and includes reforms that tie funding for administration to regional sharing and target more money for economically disadvantaged students.
Language outlining how half the additional funding will be used to reduce property taxes was being drafted yesterday and was not available as of this writing. Updates will be provided once the actual budget is printed.
The vote on the overall budget was 5 to 1, with the representative from the House Republicans voting against it. The budget will need a two-thirds vote of both bodies – 101 in the House and 24 in the Senate – to pass before midnight tonight and avoid a government shutdown. The governor has threatened to veto any budget that includes a tax hike, and this one does – specifically a one and a half percent increase in the lodging tax.
The proposed $162 million in General Purpose Aid (GPA) in the budget is split over the biennium, with $67 million for the fiscal year starting July 1 and $95 million next fiscal year. That is up from the last offer of $147 million. The higher number is a result of Democratic efforts to increase the amount to get closer to what would have been raised if a tax targeting higher-income earners had stayed on the books.
That tax was put in place as part of the Question 2 referendum, which narrowly passed at the ballot box, and would have raised an estimated $320 million over the next two years. The referendum put a 3 percent surcharge on income over $200,000 – a surcharge Republicans said had to be repealed in order for them to support a budget. The proposed budget repeals it.
The budget proposal finally came together Thursday evening after Republican Senate President Mike Thibodeau and Democratic House Speaker Sara Gideon took over to make the final compromises.
Sen. Cathy Breen, D-Cumberland, representing Senate Democrats on that committee expressed her unhappiness with the process, saying she was only voting for the proposal to avoid a government shutdown.
“All day the Senate President and Speaker of the House continued negotiations and excluded the Senate Democrats,” she said.
President Thibodeau and Speaker Gideon acknowledged the process was flawed.
“This was far from a perfect process and far from a perfect document. We did the best we could to deliver a budget,” said Speaker Gideon, to avoid a state shutdown.