I've tried not to think too much about where I'm at, what my title is, or anything to distract me from the work at hand to stay grounded. When someone says Rep. Chenette, I always correct them and say ‘just Justin’.
But as I clear out my desk and locker, reminiscent of the final days of high school, after adjourning session at 1am, it’s easy to sit back and reflect what this place truly represents. What this institution stands for. It's bigger than me, you, and any one individual or party.
No doubt there are major issues that need solving. No doubt the system as a whole needs some reform, but for all the long nights, intense debate, little pay, hotel living, and rising blood pressure, I do enjoy trying to make a difference on behalf of the people back home in Saco and the state of Maine as a whole. Not just sit on the sidelines, but to turn that complaint I or others have into a possible solution.
So no matter what issue we may differ on, what side of the aisle we may sit on, the collective goal of making our state better and the people we strive to serve remain constants in this political landscape. I hope to be given the opportunity to come back and continue to fight for the values we hold true.
This has truly been an incredible journey of service.
My bill, LD 488, a resolve directing the health and human services to develop a process to provide additional home-based and community-based services in the MaineCare program, is currently on the table awaiting resources. This is after it passed the House and was in the process of passage in the Senate.
Below is the text of the amended version of the bill, attached fiscal notes, and possible ways to pay for it.
Senator Millett, Rep. MacDonald, and honorable members of the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee, I’m Rep. Justin Chenette of Saco and here to support LD 1505 An Act Regarding Insured Value Factor Payments for Public Tuition Students Attending a Private School.
Public schools in Maine have a ‘tuition rate' that sending towns must pay when their students are tuitioned at public schools. For private schools, sending towns provide a voucher good for up to Maine's average per-pupil cost for secondary education in the previous year, plus what is known as the Insured Value Factor, an additional payment intended to cover depreciation of private schools' buildings. State law limits what private schools like town academies across the state, including my alma mater Thornton Academy in Saco, can charge municipalities when they accept students whose tuition is paid with public funds. The cap is equivalent to the average cost of educating a student in the state's public schools. On top of this Insured Value Factor had allowed private schools to charge an additional 10 percent, $800 per student (2010), to help cover the costs of building maintenance and construction. The state reimbursed municipalities for the additional fee. That number has been reduced by half to a mere 5%. Sending towns have the option of increasing the voucher to as high as 115 percent of the maximum rate, but may not reduce the voucher below that rate.
The 50% reduction in IVF resulted in a loss of $550,000 annually for Thornton Academy. Since 2009, that's $2.5 million in lost revenue. At the same time, the local student population has increased and the capital needs continue to climb with an aging infrastructure.
This bill represents a phased in system by increasing the amount a private school can charge for IVF one percent in 2013-2014, 2% in 2014-2015, and a final 2% in 2015-2016 to arrive at a total of 10% IVF funding. This number reflects the original agreed upon number prior to it being cut in a previous session.
But for me this isn’t about private versus public schools. Thornton Academy is Saco’s high school school while taking in kids from around the RSU 23 and even around the globe. Saco doesn’t have a public high school, so Thornton Academy acts through a public-private partnership. While the curriculum, clubs, sports, and multiple pathways for students is second to none, the only downside is the lack of funding for school construction. While full IVF funding isn’t a magic wand over the high costs of maintaining the aging infrastructure, it goes a long way to help town academies keep the roof over the heads of students of publicly-funded, privately supported education.
Thank you for your time and your consideration to this vital piece of legislation.
Public Hearing scheduled for LD 1290: