Sen. Paradis Withdraws Amendment as Sen. Longley Makes A Case for Hers

Senator Longley presented her case before the Education Committee and, according to the Bangor Daily News article, Senator Paradis withdrew her proposed constitutional amendment in favor of supporting the Longley bill. Most of you will have received the Adams Report which detailed the politics behind these two measures, but if you did not, please email me and I’ll see that you receive it. I’ll include my testimony below, which I’ll give at the rescheduled hearing on January 27th, identifying the two proposals as tax bills.

Senator Longley has indicated that she has the support of the Maine Municipal Association, but as you can read in the BDN article by Susan Young, MMA hasn’t yet taken a position on her bill, and the spokesperson for MMA rightly expressed reservations to the Education Committee about the wording leading to lawsuits. Judging from what I’m hearing, it may turn out that Longley is premature in claiming the support of the Maine Chamber & Business Alliance as well, although she has been quoted in the press as having their support.

The absolute corruption of a centralized funding plan is now unfolding in Vermont. The court decision and the legislative reaction of jumping on the bandwagon of an expensive designer school finance law, which includes a statewide property tax, has that state up in arms. Be sure to read the link to the Vermont Coalition of Municipalities on the website, and that’s what Maine went through 25 years ago, complete with the early unforeseen deficits. It’s painful to watch it happen to Vermont and we sure don’t want it to happen to Maine… again. I spoke earlier in the week with a Vermont taxpayer who lives in Manchester Center, who says that the DOE and the legislators who voted for Act 60 are very uneasy now because “this thing (the revolt) isn’t going away”. Contact your legislators, both House and Senate, so that they know where Longley/Paradis would take us with their new alliance, and that if your representatives vote for them, it tells the world about their characters, that they care nothing for local control or your pocketbooks… much less our Maine way of life. Yes, this is a character issue and a real litmus test of just what kind of legislators we each have. They may tell you they will vote yes “for the children”. If they do, you might want to point out that “the children” won’t be able to live here if the Longley/Paradis types ever get that suit-happy language into the Maine Constitution. The poor kids won’t be able to pay the taxes on a house when they grow up and have families if L&P and their ilk get their way.

Attending that hearing on Tuesday, January 27, 1998 at 1 p.m. in Room 120 of the State Office Building in Augusta will be important. Here’s my testimony and the articles, as promised.


Testimony by Mary Adams
January 8, 1998
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.

Chairwomen Pendleton and Richard, Members of the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee, my name is Mary Adams. I am speaking in strong opposition to the pending bills and revisions in LD 1601 and LD 1861 which would, if successful, change the wording above. I stand with the Ellsworth American, the Boothbay Register, the Bangor Daily News, so far the only newspapers who have spoken out to my knowledge. Don’t change a word. It’s unique, it is strong in its protection of local control, and to fiddle with it would be to sabotage our heritage and disarm us in the inevitable future lawsuits by those who want more state control and bigger government.

For all the smoke screen talk about these being children’s bills, the truth is that they are not even education bills. They are tax bills.

But… If you think that Maine people want higher taxes and bigger government, then support these two measures. If you think that Maine’s 8th highest tax burden isn’t high enough, then you scurry right around and drum up support for these two bills. If you want to foment rebellion, similar to what is going on right now in Vermont (outlined last Sunday night on CBS Evening News), because of their new court-induced school funding scheme, Act 60, and if you want to trigger what is happening in New Hampshire because of the state Supreme Court decision in the Claremont case, then these bills will take you there. If you have forgotten how Maine was in outright rebellion over the uniform property tax nearly 25 years ago and if you want an excuse to bring that monster back again, then you support these bills. If you want to remove the last bit of local control over schools and taxes for schools, then by all means, get this ground right into the fabric of the historic language designed for us by none other than Mr. Thomas Jefferson through William King (Maine’s first Governor) at the framing of our Constitution. Then muck up that bit of the Founding Father’s clear, direct language of local control and you replace it with the language in either of these two bills, and you’ll see that the words have been carefully chosen for the plaintiff to win the next lawsuit. If you read the Kennebec County Superior Court decision from 1994 you will see that the plaintiffs would have won with the proposed wording. With present wording, they lost. The judge’s decision says “..the language of Article VIII, section 1, the legislative history and the case law make clear that there is no constitutional right to a particular funding scheme”. So for the tax and spenders, who are not satisfied to go through the annual fighting at the trough, the answer is to “get Thomas Jefferson”, change his language, add the right adjectives and presto! either through legislative initiatives or by court action, give yourselves a mandate to get a death grip on everybody’s pocketbooks and decision making…a constitutional right it will be… forever and ever. Then the tax and spenders will have a reason to go to 60, 70, 80 percent state aid; then they can bring back the “equal tax for equal effort” concept, the state property tax. “The Maine Education Association has called for a change in the state constitution for years.” (BDN Jan. 1, 1998, in a story about these proposals.)

Comparing the faddish, lawsuit-inviting language to be merged with Mr. Jefferson’s contribution to Article VIII, reminds me of Rudyard Kipling’s famous poem: “If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools.” I hope you cannot bear it and will vote ought-not-to-pass. I wish to be contacted in advance of all work sessions on these bills.

Thank you.

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