Education section of Governor's budget address (transcript)
Education section of Governor's budget address to the Maine Legislature
Thursday, February 10, 2011.
Transcript beginning at ~19:10 in audio file (h/t DirigoBlue)
[highlights indicate remarks added or omitted from distributed prepared text]
I campaigned very strongly on education and reforms on the pension liability side will make it possible to increase aid to local education by $63 million over the biennium. (applause) In 2013 we will be contributing $914 million dollars to General Purpose Aid for Education. (applause)
And it won't be enough. Education funding is never enough because too many of our resources are diverted from the classroom and go into the administration, other parts of education, and special interests. And, folks, we need to hold the line in the next two years (applause) We are working on reforms that make the student the most important person in the classroom.
Our budget does not propose cuts to higher education. Our community colleges and our universities have to remain affordable options for our high school graduates. (applause) Our adults who want to retrain and get new skills for the new jobs of the future have to have the community colleges available to them. We also continue to provide strong support for scholarship programs.
But let me tell you a reality. It was very, very sad to hear this. The President of the Community College system and I met a few weeks ago. He told me 47% of the kids who graduate from high school in our state of Maine and go on to the Community College system need remedial work before they can start college courses. And then last week he said "I spoke out of turn. It's actually 54%." Chilling. So I called the Chancellor at the University and said what's it like at the University level. "Oh, we get the cream of the crop - it's only 25%." Of the kids that we graduate, K through 12, need remedial work before they can start their college degree. That's why I believe - and while it's not in the budget - we are going to work for a five-year high school. We are going to raise the standards of education and we are going to become a top educator in this country. (cheers and sustained applause)
Because of the situation we're in, we're going to need to find new ways to pay for education. While we did not include it in this budget, I am already starting to work and having discussions about creating a Maine Higher Education Savings Bond.
I think those of us who have raised families and those taxpayers who are currently raising families can have a program where they can start saving and we're helping them - to get the schools funded properly in the future. And I believe very strongly that we can do that. Many of the private schools are doing similar things. It's time that we do it as a state and we take care of our own.
There is a new budget initiative which is a collaboration between the Kennebec Valley Community College and Good Will-Hinckley to expand opportunities for kids who need a stable, alternative learning environment. The program will provide career training and prepare students for Maine's workforce of the future.
I am a firm believer, and have campaigned very strongly that not every student is destined to graduate from college. But that doesn't mean that every student doesn't have the ability to learn the skill sets that can provide him a better paycheck. (applause)
Not every child has the same needs and goals. Not every student will be served well by traditional education. Our resources need to follow the student to make sure his or her unique talents are optimized.