State budget-writers should not look to Maine’s public and private colleges and universities as they seek ways to fill a $100 million hole in the current budget, according to lawmakers seeking ways to make higher education more affordable.
Members of the Legislature’s Education Committee voted unanimously Monday to send a memo to the Appropriations Committee, which has proposed eliminating the sales tax exemption for private colleges and universities and cutting funding from casino revenues that fund scholarships at the state’s public schools.
All told, appropriators hope to eke out about $5.2 million in savings through the proposed measures, according to preliminary estimates from the nonpartisan Office of Fiscal and Program Review. The cuts are part of a slew of proposals aimed to fill the budget hole, which will be open for public hearings throughout this week.
The Education Committee voted to voice opposition to the plan in response to a panel of higher education experts, who said maintaining current appropriations was critical to the affordability of a college education in the state.