AUGUSTA — A bill that would raise Maine teachers’ starting salary to $40,000 has passed on initial votes in both the House and Senate.

LD 898 faces one more vote in the Senate before going to the appropriations table.

Critics worry about tax increases and how the state will fund these higher salaries, reported News Center Maine (WCSH-6)

Some are concerned that smaller districts with smaller budgets would not be able to sustain the salaries.

The bill has the state funding the salaries through the school funding formula for the first year, then tapering down state funding by 33 percent each following year.

The Maine Education Association, a union representing teachers, praises the mission of the bill.

MEA President Grace Leavitt told News Center Maine that teacher workforce shortage is at a “critical level,” and that higher salaries would encourage more people to become teachers and provide better quality teachers.

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