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Discussions on increased GPA ongoing in Augusta

Discussion continues in Augusta about the need to significantly increase General Purpose Aid to schools in the proposed biennial budget to lower the burden on local taxpayers and pay for essential school programs.

The Maine School Boards Association and Maine School Superintendents Association have called for a $50 million increase in GPA to essentially keep next year’s required local mill rate flat. The mill rate proposed in the governor’s budget is 8.48 mills, which is unprecedented and shifts $48 million in education costs onto local property taxpayers.

Democrats on the Education Committee have called for a $49 million increase and Republicans a $25 million increase.

Democratic leadership in the House and Senate last week said they would give schools an extra $20 million as part of their overall proposal, dubbed “A Better Deal for Maine,” that offers an alternative tax plan to the one being proposed by Gov. LePage. The tax discussion in Augusta has taken center stage in the budget talks, and that tax plan likely will have to be settled before any other decisions are made.

MSBA and MSSA continue to believe more needs to be done in Augusta to lower the proposed mill rate and a commitment made to substantially increase state share of the cost of education over a reasonable time frame.

The Appropriations Committee will make the final recommendations on GPA, and its deliberations are ongoing.

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