LePage claims school funding is unconstitutional

10030801_H9411027-600x783Gov. LePage has, you might say, some unusual views about the Maine Constitution.

In July 2015 the governor neglected to veto a whole slew of bills he wanted to veto. After the Maine Supreme Judicial Court received arguments (including a brief by three Maine citizens who claimed the Legislature and Attorney General Mills were traitors), it ruled unanimously that the governor was wrong about the veto and adjournment provisions.

Now there’s another odd claim.

In one of the public meetings he’s held to promote his policies, Gov. LePage claimed that state funding for K-12 schools is unconstitutional.

When the governor spoke on October 13 in Lewiston, he said that the 55% state funding requirement for core educational programs would not be met.

Then, according to a report by Andy O’Brien, the governor went on to assert that the state is prohibited from paying for education.

“Do you know that it’s unconstitutional in the state of Maine for the state to pay one dollar towards education?” the governor asked the Lewiston audience. “But we’ve never changed the constitution. We’ve been doing it for decades, but it’s [clear] the constitution says the state will only ensure that local communities pay for educating their students at their costs.”

“And I’m meeting with the Chief Justice on Friday to ask why does this continue to happen? And they say, ‘Well, we take the precedent and you’ve been doing it, so we would say you’ve got to continue doing it.’ So if that’s the case, then why are we asking a governor to take an oath to the United States Constitution and an oath to the Maine Constitution when the Constitution doesn’t mean what the Constitution says. It only means what the court says it says when they decide to discuss it in the courts. But that’s a fact.”

While this is constitutionally absurd, it raises the intriguing prospect of hearing more about the governor’s meeting with the chief justice.

More importantly, it makes one wonder if the governor would decide to test his proposition by holding back state funds.

Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.