Referendum to fund education through tax on wealthy makes signature deadline

Referendum to fund education through tax on wealthy makes signature deadline

A coalition of parents, educators and other supporters of public schools delivered almost 75,000 verified signatures to the Secretary of State’s office in Augusta yesterday in support of the Stand Up for Students ballot initiate. That number means that the referendum question asking voters to approve a 3% tax surcharge on Mainers making more than $200,000 in order to raise more than $157 million more dollars per year for public schools will almost certainly appear on the statewide General Election ballot this November.

Stand Up for Students collected the signatures in just three months, an impressive feat, especially considering that a ballot measure backed by the Maine Republican Party and Governor Paul LePage to eliminate the income tax and cut public assistance programs, which was launched at the same time, fell far short of its signature goals.

“The sheer number of signatures collected in such a short timeframe is validation that Maine people want to support our students and our schools,” said Jan Cerabona, a retired educator from Eliot and one of the original signatories of the proposal. “If the State is finally paying its share then we won’t have to be squeezed even more at the local level.”

The initiative is designed to provide a funding mechanism to finally bring state education funding to the 55% level voters approved by referendum ten years ago, but which has never been reached.

Livy and Lucy Olson, two young students who accompanied their dad as he collected petition signatures, also attended the delivery event.

“I went with my dad to collect signatures so that my school can have new books and we can go on field trips,” said Livy, a first grader at Longfellow Elementary in Portland.

“I supported my dad when he collected signatures so that I can have more education in other cultures and languages. I would also like school to have more teachers in class to try and make sure everyone is doing well,” said Lucy, a second grader at Longfellow.

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