Lewiston superintendent says LePage proposal to send casino money to private schools

LEWISTON —The Oxford Casino was approved by voters in referendum on the premise that some of the proceeds would go to education.

But according to Lewis ton School Superintendent Bill Webster, Republican Gov. Paul LePage plans to send casino money earmarked for education to private schools.

“The plan by the governor is not to run those (casino) funds through the education funding formula, rather to earmark them for specific things such as funding school choice options for students who might not otherwise be able to afford private school,” Webster told the School Committee on Monday night.

It was one item on a list of state budget proposals that will hurt the budgets of local schools like Lewiston, if approved by legislators in Augusta, Webster said.

Other LePage proposals that could harm local schools include cutting revenue-sharing money to towns and cities, shifting teacher pension costs to towns and cities, cutting school funding and pushing part of a month's state education payment from June to July, which pushes it into the next fiscal year.

School Committee Chairman Jim Handy, a former Democratic state legislator, blasted LePage’s budget proposals.

While the total dollar damage from LePage’s plans is not clear, “what is clear is the governor's absolute disdain for public education and public school teachers,” Handy said. He called LePage’s proposals a “frontal assault on public education.”

The Oxford casino referendum was “passed on the premise of providing education money, yet he's funding other things he sees as priorities,” Handy said. “It's unfortunate.”

In addition to the casino revenue, other changes in LePage’s budget include:

The curtailment in state education funding for the current budget cycle, which ends June 30, is a loss of nearly $257,000 for the Lewiston School Department.

“We talk about flat funding for the next two years. First we've got to take the curtailment out,” Webster said. “Right away, we're being funded at a lesser level than what legislators approved last spring. In addition to that,” it is shifting half of Maine's teacher retirement costs, which have long been paid by state taxpayers, to towns and cities.

LePage is proposing to have towns and cities pay for teacher retirement costs, “and run $14 million through the state funding formula,” he said. That would give some of the money back to schools. But “the bottom line is that schools will be hit by $14 million in additional charges.”

And, Webster said, “this may be opening the barn door. Where is it going to stop? The retirement plan is not something we negotiated at the local level.”

Another change is pushing $18.5 million in payments to school from June to July to balance this year's state budget. And LePage wants to change the funding formula for technical centers across Maine, moving them to program-based reimbursements rather than cost-based reimbursements.

Until better numbers are known, “I can't say where we'd end up,” Webster said. “There are more loose ends on the budget front than I ever recall between state revenue sharing, the reduction of General Purpose Aid, the retirement issue, the casino issue, a lot of things.”

Webster said he expects to release his recommended school budget in late February without knowing how much money Lewiston schools can expect from the state.

Those numbers may not be available until March, Webster said.

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 's picture

Directly from our Maine Constitution

Article VIII.
Part First.

Section 1. Legislature shall require towns to support public schools; duty of Legislature. A general diffusion of the advantages of education being essential to the preservation of the rights and liberties of the people; to promote this important object, the Legislature are authorized, and it shall be their duty to require, the several towns to make suitable provision, at their own expense, for the support and maintenance of public schools; and it shall further be their duty to encourage and suitably endow, from time to time, as the circumstances of the people may authorize, all academies, colleges and seminaries of learning within the State; provided, that no donation, grant or endowment shall at any time be made by the Legislature to any literary institution now established, or which may hereafter be established, unless, at the time of making such endowment, the Legislature of the State shall have the right to grant any further powers to alter, limit or restrain any of the powers vested in any such literary institution, as shall be judged necessary to promote the best interests thereof.

Per this, it is not up to our State government to fund our schools; that responsibility lays on the shoulders of each town/city. So, in effect, any subsidizing from the State and/or Federal government is unconstitutional.

I didn't write it, folks. That is what is in our constitution, ratified from long ago. And it has withstood the test of time. Funny how we seem to have stooped to ignoring our laws to suit our needs (both federally as well as at the state & municipal level) whenever it fancies us to do so. Maybe ... just maybe ... that is where we have gone wrong in our society and why we experience such depravity.

Scott Bussiere's picture

He's an Idiot

I just want to say that the governor and im not say OUR governor i am saying THE governor is the most IDIOTICAL POLITICIAL we have EVER put in office. I dont know where this guy is coming from but he thinks that Public School Teachers should teach better but then he turns around and takes money away from the public schools and the money that he casino is suppose to give us for public schools he turns around and says no we will give it to the private schools. What kind of IDIOT does that to the Maine Public Schools. He is the main reason why right now that the state is lossing money and jobs. I dont know how we can do it but we need to get him impeached before he sells us to China.

Betty Davies's picture

LePage wants to kill public education in Maine

He hopes to turn education into something you can get only by paying a privately owned corporation. He sees the potential for profit for his wealthy buddies. It's the Republican dream.

Surely One Has to Pay One’s Debts

David Graeber begins his book “Debt, The First 5, 000 Years”[1] recalling a conversation with an attorney who provides legal support to London anti-poverty groups. Graeber shares a historical background of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) with the attorney beginning with the 1970’s oil crises.
At that time OPEC countries placed their new riches in Western banks; Citibank and Chase, and other institutions needing to find investment outlets, made loans to Third-World dictators and politicians at very low interest rates. Interest rates climbed upwards of 20% in the early 80’s leading to the Third-World debt crises of the 80’s and 90’s; the IMF stepped in requiring that to obtain refinancing, countries would have to take drastic measures which included abandoning price supports on basic foodstuffs, free healthcare and free education; this of the poorest and most vulnerable people on earth.
When asked by the attorney his position on the debt owed, Graeber indicates his intent was to abolish the debt; “thirty years of money flowing from the poorest countries to the richest was quite enough.” Further while dictators and politicians offloaded many of these funds to their Swiss bank accounts, it was the people saddled with the debt.
The attorney objects, with a self-evident tone, “they’d borrowed the money! Surely one has to pay one’s debts.” Graeber realizes that the attorney’s retort resonates not as an economic statement, but rather as a moral statement.
Economic debt is the obligation to pay a certain sum of money; a simple, cold, and impersonal transaction and transferable. Human effects are not calculated, only principle and interest.
“Morality refers to a code of conduct that applies to all who can understand it and can govern their behavior by it, …morality should never be overridden, that is, no one should ever violate a moral prohibition or requirement for non-moral considerations.”[2]
How is our sense of morality and justice reduced to the language of a business deal; a moral obligation becomes an economic debt? Money. It is money’s capacity to turn morality into a matter of impersonal arithmetic, justifying what would otherwise seem outrageous or obscene.
In 2010 voters approved the Oxford Casino under the promise that 46 percent of the profits would help fund public education in Maine. However, in a recent announcement Paul LePage intends to use those funds ($14 million) to address a gap in the state’s budget.[3] LePage already had cut $12.58 million from state education funding in December… and is saying schools will be flat funded for the next year.[4]
A moral obligation towards education and the children of Maine, has now become an economic debt; a simple, cold, and impersonal transaction. Or is it a simple, cold, and impersonal investment in the future towards for-profit charter schools in Maine?
The removal of state educational funding and state revenue sharing[5] places increasingly the cost of schools on the individual towns through increased property taxes. All will scramble to seek ways for less expensive options to education; fear of not educating one’s child a driving factor; for-profit charter schools easily enter, possibly welcomed.
LePage and his lieutenants are the poster children for teaching immoral behavior; they’ve clearly demonstrated a keen ability of how to use money to turn a matter of morality into a matter of heartless economics, justifying what would otherwise be reprehensible to a rational society.
[1] “Debt: The First 5,000 Years”, David Graeber, Melville House; First Edition (July 12, 2011)
[2] http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/morality-definition/
[3] http://bangordailynews.com/2013/01/26/politics/lepage-wants-to-use-casin...
[4] http://bangordailynews.com/2013/01/13/politics/community-leaders-balk-at...
[5] http://bangordailynews.com/2013/01/13/politics/community-leaders-balk-at...

AL PELLETIER's picture


Can you three fools who keep pushing "disagree" identify yourselves, or just write something to justify your position?
We're all waiting.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Al, I'll bet...

Al, I'd be willing to bet I could figure out who they are, Everyone knows who's against what. The answer is simple process of elimination....

Catherine Pressey's picture

What do you want to hear, because we said so.

So Al how about you telling us something about yourself, do you think or have a real opinion or are you just the peanut gallery kind of commenter. Fools you say, if you look like a duck than I guess you dear sir are a duck. Maybe you ought to ID your self.

AL PELLETIER's picture

OMG Catherine

You must be really new to this. Every commenter in this forum knows that my opinions are never ending. Sometimes their pretty good and sometimes they suck, but I'm certainly not a peanut gallery type of guy!

Catherine Pressey's picture

Yes Al! New and old.

New for sure and being elderly like some would say, I have a problem knowing who is commenting on my comment. lol Or if it is pertaining to someone else. lol Yes I do not like LePage or his behavior, my opinions are sure mine as some would say, however it sure would be of help to the older me if you was to spar with me say so. I sure get my self into enough adverse conversations without taking on, that, that does not apply to me. lol I follow certain stories and comment on the ones that I have knowledge and life experiences, or just plain get a wee bit P. O. llllllllllllllllll Like God LePage,

AL PELLETIER's picture

Too funny Catherine

I'm not going to give my age away but I will say my Social Security deposit landed yesterday, I took my high blood pressure meds. this morning and a Certrum Silver tablet is on the menu for a bedtime snack . Sweet Dreams!

Catherine Pressey's picture

Love to be funny,

With all I've been through and all I have yet too! We may as well laugh at our opinionated selves. So you say Social Security, some say entitlements. And Yes because the way my mind works these days each day is new, and I may forget. What I said, oh I forgot what I was going to say, yep! However I bet I can get enough out to stir up the Indians, good or bad., or maybe in between . Yahooooooo to life. Happy Trails

Catherine Pressey's picture

I Call for an impeachment:

Two more years with this man, now that is a scary thing, the lord of the state capital continues his assault upon We the tax payers period. First he spend money to remove the mural from the labor department. Then fights in court to keep it his way. And let me tell you all this is not the mind of a reasonable thinking man. This is the same kind of man that spoke with a forked tongue to get elected, is the worst that we could have ever believed in a million years. He sure is one in a billion, I am sure that all of us would have like to, give him a chance, some voted for him. How the heck can it get any worse! No jobs, not enough money to keep programs funded, but he LePage worried himself about the mural. Sick! Spent money to show us who is boss hoss here. Now this misuse of fiduciary trust, he may be our Governor that does not mean that he can change the meaning of what agreement about the Casino funds were to go. I SAY TO IMPEACH THE AHOLE, though I understand we here do not have a way to do that. Next time you all decide to vote for someone remember LePage, like remember the Alamo and what happened to that. That’s my opinion!

AL PELLETIER's picture

Catherine, you go girl!

And don't forget the very first thing he did in office was to give his, fresh out of college, daughter a 40K a year job plus room and board at our expense. What a legacy!

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Good morning, Al. In 2008

Good morning, Al.
In 2008 oBAMa campaigned with a pledge that he would shut down Gitmo. As many of us know, he has not done it. Yesterday, it was announced that he was shutting down the Federal office that was working to shut down Gitmo. The parrot sez the campaign promise was merely smoke and fairy dust. Now, this is coming from a liberal, mind you.
Your thoughts, my friend.

AL PELLETIER's picture

Back at you, Paul

If Gitmo, broken pledges and the 2008 presidential election had any relevance to the subject at hand I'd be happy to give you my opinion. On another thread, with this subject as the topic of discussion, might be fun, (you might even find me agreeing with you)!

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Didn't realize we were all in

Didn't realize we were all in cages of protocol like little monkeys.

Catherine Pressey's picture

What a legacy:

Al Pelletier, I did not forget that fact, I already used that part in one other comment in a different story all about the life and mind of our great LePage. And yes his daughter sure got a job right out of college, and they want us to believe he had nothing to do with that. Really. Just the same the state of Maine is in deep trouble, not enough money to keep the home fires burning. Now with LePage help the home fires, or oil tanks will have less in the at the home front to heat our homes. Due to the fact that our property taxes are going to go up, to make up the difference, because LePage wants to pass the buck, to the towns and Cities.

Tina Ouellette's picture

Lepage Finest

Why just the private schools? why can we fund ALL SCHOOLS!!! whatever happen to no child left behind? I always thought that private schools were funded by Tuitions? Maine is slowly going deeper and deeper in a hole. Company's are shutting down and moving out of state!! GET HIM OUT OF THERE!!

Jeff Kelley's picture

school funding

Well let see if we can't steal money from our kids school funding, this guy is going to run this state into the ground,instead of broading our tax base by getting mfg. to move here he would rather steal money from our kids,boy is this moron a card, what next another snack tax there was a great idea from another moron bad enough they tax the hell out of what workers there are why not go for the kids too get them used to paying tax too,hell why don't you tax the air we use, so sick of these bungholes they should take a pay cut and live on what the rest of us have to live on,we need to vote this wingnut out of office,we as tax payers are having to put up with cuts in the services we get the crap roads we drive on and the jobs that are leaving this state as fast as they can becauses of the inept running of our state, enough is enough do your job and get jobs in mane before we are all collecting walfare, and i won't even go there we have a state full of freeloaders and i won't say who but just look around you, take a drive by these low income housing and see how many new cars are parked there not one junk car to be found,

FRANK EARLEY's picture

The good Governor....

Paul LePage isn't stupid. He's not to intelligent, but he's not stupid, there is a difference. What Paul LePage's biggest problem is, his actions are dictated by an extreme right wing ideology, everything that is needed for this State to move ahead is not allowed. He's a Republican Tea Party zealot, through and through.
I don't mean to criticize all Republican's. Just the ones sticking to the delusional ideas of Grover Norduist, John Boener, and the gang. It would seem that what they are trying to accomplish in this country is total blockage. They intend to do, in this term what they set out to do last term, block anything deemed beneficial to the people because they are not in charge.
Paul LePage knows we need to increase funds in the state, we need more money. He is so dedicated to the extreme right, that he refuses to accept the challenge and work with both houses and come up with a viable solution, instead he opted to shift the burden of having to raise taxes to the cities and towns. Now he wants to steal money from the private sector to fund his piggy bank. He doesn't seem to care that the money was earmarked for public schools. I have to get things strait here. First, he cuts all funding to cities and towns in the form of tax revenue, so he instead can pay off his pet project, the budget deficit. And then, he plans to steal money set aside for public schools, and put into his general fund.
Is it any wonder that when ever I see a picture of Paul LePage, I see Boss Tweed? For you younger readers, Boss Tweed was a notoriously corrupt Mayor of New York City at the turn of the century. He went on to symbolize the stereo- typical image of a corrupt politician.
I've gone from hoping he may do some good in office, to hoping he won't destroy the state before he's done. Two years is a long time.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

How about 8 years of watching

How about 8 years of watching oBAMa dismantling our Constitution and our Country simultaneously? What do you think that feels like?

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Doesn't bother me...

I haven't seen any indication of Obama dismantling anything, much less my constitutional rights.....

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

That must be why Cuba's and

That must be why Cuba's and China's rates of economic growth currently surpass ours. Oh, yes, I forgot, it must still be that recession that Bush started. You might see it differently if you were faced with having to hang onto a job in the private sector. And, I'm not ragging on your personal situation, Frank. That's the last thing I would do, but there are an awful lot of people out there that are having a really tough time of it while your president goes around like everything's cool and our country is thriving, which is bull. If things are so great, why on earth are we still paying more than $3.00 a gallon for gas and $3.52 a gallon for heating oil?
There were, allegedly, one million people in attendance at oBAMa's inauguration; 14 had missed work. 0O:-)

Catherine Pressey's picture

Paul, Cuba China,

Could be that, when a worker gets paid .18 cents per hour that just might give them a great, not wee advantage. Coupled with the greed of the corporations, that took our jobs off shore. And they did not take them to Germany or Japan that pay their workers a livable wage. Due to FDR' s Right that we the people were responsible when the new government of both Japan and Germany were set up. With our help. FDR died before he could get the amendment to our constitution passed. As far a Gitmo or Obama and his decisions. Ya can try to blame him about the bad economy, your sure pushing that idea. But what LePage and this story, is a far cry from we here in Maine and our schools and the mess we are in. Bush not only started the darn recession, he is also a oil man and a war lord. So oil, or gas choose one or both. The Bushes and the Republicans, the very rich own you and all those that can not see, how this all came about. Your right about things not being good out here. But look around still lots of people doing real well, while like Obama said the many barely get by. I for one have seen this in my family, whereby once some did pretty well, working here in Maine. Now still at the same employment they are in a fight to stay afloat. So your right that things are not so good. Obama said so if you missed it, opps. WE ARE ALL at the bottom having a tough time. So I agree with you! But LePage is hell bent to make things worse for our cities and towns. And he is misusing his Fiduciary Trust. Period.

Get him out of our pockets

This guy is the worst governor we have ever had..he can't run a state, let alone a discount store....he is making such a mess of our state and it will be left for the next guy to clean up the mess...sound familiar anyone???? anyone who can't see this has their head buried in the sand...where has he even done one thing right for our state?? shifting monies around won't work, and letting the cities and towns to pick up the load will surely bring our taxes up..can we even afford him...NO WE CAN"T!!!!!! Get rid of this guy before we all go broke..

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

All he's doing, Linda, is

All he's doing, Linda, is cleaning up Baldacci's mess. Painful when a republican has to clean up after a democrat, isn't it?

Catherine Pressey's picture

OMG Paul

All he's doing, Linda, is cleaning up Baldacci's mess. Painful when a republican has to clean up after a democrat, isn't it?
LOL lmao, no way any Republican can clean up after anyone. They only mess things up and the joke goes put a bunch of Republicans in a barn and lock the door. Tell them they can come out when the reach a agreement. heck they are still in that barn today. If you can not agree you can not get anything done. period. lol

Scott Bussiere's picture

Are you in our pockets too

Do you have blinders on? cause everthing he has done is not cleaning up. cleaning up is Obama fixing what Bush has done.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

No more than you do. You

No more than you do. You voted for oBAMa didn't you? I don't have to be in your pockets; oBAMa's been picking them for the last 4 years and most of you are clueless.

Kim Waite's picture

The Blaine House Monster

wants to fund the wealthy's private schools? Really? If this doesn't prove how far up the Monster is in the arse's of the billionaire Koch Brothers, nothing will!

AL PELLETIER's picture

Fancy footwork there Gov.

Last Friday Scott Thistle reported that the governor wants to take 14 million in casino funds earmarked for education and move it to the general fund (the governor's cookie jar).
Now I read that he wants to use those education funds for private schools! How stupid does he think we are? For those funds to be used for private schools the money would have to go into the general fund and controlled by Augusta instead of the educational funding formula.
And what will happen? Our property taxes will go up again. And, as has been stated in the post below, private schools are paid for by tuition from folks who choose not to use our public education system.
Incredibly sneaky!

John Goddard's picture

Of course

Aren't private schools funded by, Tuition ? Public schools need the funding. What is wrong with this guy ? If he gets elected again, shame on us...


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