Dear Friends and Constituents:
We are a month into session and already very busy.
Preventing property tax hikes:
One of our biggest priorities is to restore $40 million in revenue sharing to our towns.
Last year, the governor proposed eliminating municipal revenue sharing. The Legislature was able to restore two-thirds of the cuts, but still needs to keep in place $40 million to meet the promise in the bipartisan budget. Municipalities depend on these funds to cover the costs of running our schools, public works and public safety.
If we don’t accomplish this, towns will either have to cut the services they provide or raise taxes on property owners.
A bill submitted by Rep. Peggy Rotundo, D-Lewiston, and Sen. Dawn Hill, D-York, the chairs of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, would prevent further property tax increases for Maine communities and local property taxpayers by protecting $40 million in revenue sharing funds. If the Legislature does not blunt cuts to revenue sharing, funding for towns will decline 79 percent by 2015.
Yesterday, the legislation won initial approval by a vote of 114-21 in the Maine House. The bill faces further votes in the House and Senate.
Helping students pay for college:
Also coming before the Legislature this session are two bills addressing college affordability. Senate President Justin Alfond and Sen. Roger Katz are both sponsoring bills to study the possibility of students attending college for free and later paying back the state with a percentage of their income.
Over the past two decades, the cost of college tuition has skyrocketed. Here in Maine, two-thirds of college students graduate with debt.
Both bills explore the Pay It Forward model, and Sen. Alfond’s bill also explores incentives for degree completion such as tuition that is guaranteed to stay at the same rate for all four years.
If you have any questions regarding any of these bills, or any concerns or thoughts regarding state government, please do not hesitate to contact me.
All the best,