AUGUSTA – A legislative committee voted Monday to recommend eliminating two high-profile proposals from Gov. Paul LePage’s budget.

The Education Committee voted 9-4 against a proposal to make school districts split the cost of teachers’ retirement plans, which now are covered fully by the state.

The state and school districts would effectively split the cost of the plans over the two years starting July 1, costing districts about $14 million.

Critics have said the proposal may leave the districts to pay retirement costs in the future if the state’s budget situation doesn’t improve.

In a 9-2 vote, the committee rejected a proposed voucher program for low-income students. The $530,000 program would pay some of the transportation, tuition and residential costs of non-religious private schools or public schools outside students’ home districts.

The Portland Press Herald has reported that the program would be available to students who qualify for free and reduced-price lunch under federal law.

That’s 84,000 of Maine’s 189,000 students – 44 percent.

The committee’s recommendations will go to the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee, which will send a budget to the full Legislature for a vote later this spring.


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