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Voters Unite to Protect Public Education

Maine, Washington voters reject ballot initiatives that could have resulted in permanent cuts to education

By Jazzy Wright

Wednesday, November 4, 2009 -- Voters in Maine and Washington joined forces at the polls yesterday to defeat restrictive Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) initiatives that would have choked future education funding and lead to ballooning class sizes and program cuts. The TABOR measures on the Washington and Maine ballots would have tied future growth in state spending to inflation and population increases, locking in funding disparities and essentially making recent cuts to education permanent.

In Maine, 60 percent of voters voted "no" to the TABOR initiative, making it the third time Maine voters have rejected such a proposal.

“TABOR would have had a devastating impact on our classrooms, and we are pleased that the voters of Maine chose to protect the high quality of our programs and the learning opportunities for our students,” said Chris Galgay, president of the Maine Education Association.

The Washington TABOR initiative, known as Initiative 1033, was rejected 55 percent to 44 percent.

“Voters have seen harm caused by the recession in their classrooms, communities and businesses, and they understand that gimmicks like these initiatives would have made things worse,” said Mary Lindquist, president of the Washington Education Association.

“With Initiative 1033’s failure, we can ensure Washington’s infrastructure and higher education systems remain competitive with other states and nations around the globe,” added George Allen of the Seattle Chamber of Commerce.

When it comes to protecting public education, the TABOR concept has a poor track record. The idea was tried previously in Colorado, and, as a result, the state ranked 47th in the country in K-12 education funding as a share of state income, before TABOR was suspended in 2005. The Washington Education Association and Maine Education Association worked hard to convince voters not to repeat Colorado's mistake.  




TABOR: A proven failure

NEA press release on defeat of TABOR in Maine, Washington