LePage’s Income Tax Constitutional Amendment Bill LD 1367 Offered in Committee

Posted on May 7, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

freHouse Minority Leader Ken Fredette (R-Newport) spoke before the 127th Legislature’s Taxation Committee this week regarding Governor Paul LePage’s bill LD 1367, “RESOLUTION, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine To Eliminate the Income Tax” (photos).

From Democratic press release:

    Top Democrats on the Taxation Committee are raising strong concerns about the Governor’s proposed Constitutional amendment to abolish the income tax by 2020 ahead of today’s hearing on the bill.

    “We are going to be raising strong concerns during the hearing. The Governor’s bill is reckless and unpaid for. It provides huge tax breaks to the wealthy at the expense of the rest us,” said Rep. Adam Goode, D-Bangor, House Chair of the Taxation Committee. “Working families will see increasing property taxes, while investment in our students and workers will be gutted. It is terrible recipe for our economy.”

    According to the Legislature’s Office of Fiscal and Program Review, the proposal would cost $1.7 billion per year. It would force cuts in K-12 and higher education, with the majority of the benefit going to those with incomes greater than $392,000. Maine spends close to $1.2 billion on K-12 and higher education and $750 million on health care for children, seniors, and people with disabilities. Even if the governor cut all state funding for education and half the funding for health care, there still wouldn’t be enough money to cover the cost of eliminating Maine’s income tax.

    According to an analysis from the Maine Center for Economic analysis, the top 1 percent of Mainers – 7,000 households with incomes greater than $392,000 – will get a $61,000 income tax cut on average and account for 26 percent of the total amount. Meanwhile, middle-income Mainers – 140,000 households with incomes between $38,000 and $60,000 – will get a $900 income tax cut on average and account for less than 8 percent of the total, while property taxes and sales taxes rise.

    “Eliminating the income tax may sound great at first glance. But doing so would be reckless to both our state budget and local town budgets everywhere. It would force severe cuts like closing down every public school and college campus in Maine or raising the sales tax to 15 percent,” said Democratic State Senator Nate Libby of Lewiston, who serves on the Taxation Committee. “This is more of a political sound bite than a serious proposal.”

Here is video along with questions from committee members.

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Maine Democrats Introduce LD 695, Clarifying Right To Opt Out Of Standardized Testing

Posted on March 8, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

Lois Kilby-Chesley, Maine Education Association president, and Rep. Sara Gideon

Lois Kilby-Chesley, Maine Education Association president, and Rep. Sara Gideon

Democrats held a press conference in the State House’s Welcome Center with area parents and PTA members to roll out a proposed bill aimed at clarifying the rights of students bombarded with a slew of standardized testing under the “No Child Left Behind” Act.

While parents already have the right to opt out, there has been confusion among parents, superintendents and school boards. LD 695, “An Act To Empower Parents in the Education of Their Children by Allowing an Opt-out from Standardized Assessments” would codify those rights in state statute and eliminate any confusion on the matter. The bill is sponsored by Asst House Majority Leader Rep. Sara Gideon (D-Freeport) and Senator Nate Libby (D-Androscoggin).

Due to federal mandates, schools are spending more time than ever preparing students for standardized tests. Under No Child Left Behind, students are tested every year in grades 3 through 8, and the state is moving toward testing all third- through 12th-graders.

In addition to codifying parents’ rights, the bill:

· requires alternate learning opportunities for students who opt out;

· requires that school districts inform parents of their rights by posting the information in a public place, like the Internet;

· ensures teachers are allowed to notify parents of their rights; and

· prohibits the state from penalizing a district when students have opted out.

Via press release:

    “As the mother of three kids, I know how much time these tests now take and about the stress and anxiety high-stakes testing causes for teachers, educators, parents and students,” said Rep. Sara Gideon (D-Freeport). “I really want Maine to have a conversation about the sheer number of tests our kids are taking, the effectiveness of these tests and whether we’re using these tests in the best way to improve education for our kids.”

    DSC_0138“Teachers, parents and students in my community are fearful, frustrated and seeking relief from these heavy-handed testing mandates,” said Sen. Nate Libby (D-Lewiston). “This legislation is simple and straightforward. And, it will ensure parents and students know and understand their rights. School performance, teacher performance and student performance based so heavily on standardized testing is deeply flawed. We all know some students perform better than others on standardized tests and that test results do not universally reflect individual students overall academic performance. Classroom time is at a premium. State and federal mandates on classroom instruction continue to grow while teachers and students struggle to meet all the requirements in a six-hour school day.”

    Karen McClure-Richard, a Lewiston parent, described the standardized testing experience of her daughter. The tests didn’t have “cut scores” – set benchmarks for passing a test – but instead looked for progress made from previous tests. Because her daughter scored high, her goal scores climbed higher and higher. In her sixth-grade year, she put a great deal of pressure on herself before missing the goal score by one point despite doing her very best.

    “She came home very upset and eventually told me that she felt ‘stupid,’”
    McClure-Richard said. “My daughter who made honors every single year felt stupid and subsequently lost her love of school because of a meaningless test. Because she missed the growth goal, she also contributed to the ‘failure’ of her teacher and the ‘failure’ of the school even though she scored the equivalent of one grade level higher than the grade she was in.”

    Lorri Cahill, a kindergarten teacher in Skowhegan who has taught for 31 years, said there is no longer balance in the educational system.

    DSC_0155“The increasing amount of testing and assessing is leading to missed educational opportunities. In order to attempt to standardize children’s performance, we have adopted scripted lessons that are devoid of developmental theory. We are told to individualize our instruction, yet use high-stakes standardized tests to measure the success of that instruction,” said Cahill, who is opting her own son out of tests this spring.

    Lisa Cooley of Jackson, a school board member in RSU 4, said public education needs to be more responsive to students. The school district serves the communities of Brooks, Freedom, Jackson, Knox, Liberty, Monroe, Montville, Thorndike, Troy, Unity and Waldo.

    “This testing regime has created a toxic learning environment where too many children are left behind, disconnected from learning and ill-prepared for successful lives. With the advent of standards that are enforced by testing, we’ve embraced a regime that runs counter not only to the way kids learn, but to their happiness and fulfillment,” she said.

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Jared Golden Announces Candidacy for Lewiston House District 60

Posted on March 19, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

Via press release:

    Jared Golden announces candidacy for State House
    Veteran is dedicated to continuing public service in Lewiston

Jared Golden PhotoLEWISTON – Jared Golden, a Maine veteran, has announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination to the Maine House of Representatives for Lewiston’s new District 60.

Golden’s priorities are to ensure that Mainers can earn a livable wage, to expand educational opportunities for all ages, to help veterans build new careers and successful lives after service and to encourage civility and a positive outlook for Maine and the Lewiston community.

“I want to help people improve their lives and communities,”
said Golden, a Leavitt Area High School and Bates College graduate. “Access to a quality education and a chance to work hard and earn a decent living are necessary for creating equal opportunities for people to pursue their dreams and achieve their goals in life.”

Golden, 31, served four years in the U.S. Marine Corps with deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq. After his military service he lived in Lewiston, worked at his parent’s small business in Leeds and studied at Bates College with his Department of Veterans Affairs education benefits.

Golden is running for the House seat that is currently held by Rep. Nate Libby, who last month announced his candidacy for the State Senate. Libby is endorsing Golden for the House seat.

“Jared Golden is an accomplished public servant and is exceptionally qualified for this office,” said Libby. “He’s honest, compassionate and dedicated—I know he’ll serve Lewiston well in the Legislature.”

Former Rep. Dick Wagner, who represented the district before Libby, is serving on Golden’s campaign.

“I look forward to seeing Jared represent Lewiston in Augusta,” said Wagner. “I know he’ll bring the same dedication and energy to serving Lewiston as he did to serving our country.”

Golden has also received endorsements from Lewiston’s Sen. Margaret Craven and Reps. Mike Carey, Michel Lajoie, Peggy Rotundo and Wayne Werts.

“I’m very grateful for the opportunities I’ve had in life and the help I’ve received along the way,”
said Golden. “I believe in giving back and I’ll work hard for the people of Lewiston.”

While earning his degree at Bates, Golden served in the Marine Corps Reserves and also volunteered at a school in Afghanistan. After Bates he returned to Afghanistan and Iraq to work in the international logistics industry.

In 2011, Golden accepted a position on the U.S. Senate Homeland Security Committee. He most recently served as a legislative aide for Democrats in the State House where he gained experience that will enable him to advocate for Lewiston as effectively as his predecessors.

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Rep. Nate Libby Announces Candidacy for Senate District 21

Posted on February 17, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

From his press release:

NATE Libby

    Rep. Nate Libby Announces Candidacy for State Senate

      Will be a forceful advocate for Lewiston

LEWISTON – Rep. Nate Libby (D-Lewiston) will launch his campaign for State Senate District 21, which comprises the city of Lewiston, at Museum LA, 35 Canal Street, Lewiston, on Saturday, February 22nd at 10:00 AM.

“I’m excited for the challenge and opportunity of serving the people of Lewiston in the Senate,”
said Rep. Libby. “We need strong leadership in Augusta and I’ll be a forceful advocate for our city and its people.”

The senate seat is currently held by Democratic Senator Margaret Craven of Lewiston, who announced she is retiring after 12 years of service in the Legislature in order to care for her ailing husband. Senator Craven is endorsing Rep. Libby as her replacement.

“I am pleased to support Nate Libby for this seat,” said Senator Craven. “He will bring a great deal of energy to the Senate, and I know he will always put Lewiston first.”

Rep. Libby is completing his first term in the Maine House of Representatives and has been serving on the Lewiston City Council since 2012.

In the Legislature, Rep. Libby serves on the Taxation Committee where he co-sponsored legislation for comprehensive tax reform. He has also worked to restore revenue sharing, expand access to Pre-K education, and make health insurance more affordable.

He serves on the board of Androscoggin Head Start, the Lewiston-Auburn Economic Growth Council, Lewiston’s Community Development Committee, and the working group for Lewiston’s first universally accessible playground.

Rep. Libby is a graduate of Bates College and works as a consultant and landlord in Lewiston-Auburn. He is married to Andrea and has a four year old son, Jude.

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