Last week the Maine House of Representatives took a strong, bipartisan vote for Maine’s middle class, small businesses and our local public schools. A fair tax code and a strong public education system are both vitally important to Maine. I was proud to offer an amendment that prevents ineffective corporate giveaways at the expense of Maine students and taxpayers.

There has been a lot of discussion about tax conformity on these pages recently, and I must set the record straight. I agree with many of my colleagues, Republicans and Democrats, that Maine should fully conform to new federal tax code changes for the next two years. Our Democratic caucus wholeheartedly supports the deductions for homeowners, higher education deductions for students and their families, and the incentives that help small businesses creating good Maine jobs. We are disheartened that teachers continue to have to use their own salaries to purchase school supplies. But while we fight for more education funding, we fully support the credit that reimburses them.

All of these pieces fit together to help build a strong middle class and boost the small businesses that form the backbone of Maine’s economy.

But the bill sent to us by Gov. Paul LePage had an extra element in it: the Maine Capital Investment Credit. The Bangor Daily News correctly points out it isn’t truly part of federal tax conformity and that its retroactive nature calls into question its ability to incentivize equipment purchases.

This credit would cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars — including $1.4 million that by law is supposed to go to education — when it’s not even clear whether it actually creates jobs or grows the economy. The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service found that credits such as this one do not necessarily create jobs.

Due diligence demands that we at least hit pause.

We should not be investing millions of dollars into unproven programs. It’s especially dangerous to use precious tax dollars for this credit when many school districts just learned that they will be getting less — sometimes a lot less — in state funding for the next school year. RSU 26, the district for my hometown of Orono, is projected to lose more than $77,000. Bangor faces a loss of $744,000, and Brewer is expected to lose $245,000.

This isn’t an issue limited to our part of the state.

Calais will lose $360,000, and for Eastport, it’s $188,000. Lisbon: $478,000. Orrington: $478,000. Scarborough: $1.6 million.

Districts can’t just absorb cuts like these. If the state fails to pay its fair share for education, what will happen to classroom sizes, electives and extracurricular activities? Will open positions remain unfilled? Will students have the materials they need? The likely result of this hole will be a $23 million property tax increase in towns and cities across the state. We cannot allow this.

Our amended bill closes the $23 million gap in school funding, protecting classrooms from cuts and property taxpayers from avoidable spikes in their bills.

On this point I must respond to recent attacks from House Republicans and the governor — and similar concerns raised by the BDN — that education is a separate issue from conformity. The administration opened the door to talking about school funding when it tried to raid $1.4 million from education to pay for tax cuts to out-of-state corporations. You cannot argue for using school dollars to pay for corporate tax breaks and then cry politics when others want to reverse that decision.

Also remember that this crisis is partly at the feet of the governor, who has again abdicated his responsibilities. Any other governor seeing this shortfall would have submitted a supplemental budget to bring our finances into balance. When the administration fails to act, lawmakers must use available legislative vehicles to address critical needs.

My amendment also keeps the Maine Capital Investment Credit in place for tax filers this year but does not extend it to the following year. We need the chance to thoughtfully review this program to ensure the wise use of taxpayer dollars. These are the dollars of working families who could use more in their pockets, of seniors on fixed incomes and of small Maine businesses that create jobs in our communities.

We cannot not blindly accept an expensive and ineffective policy at the expense of Maine students and taxpayers.

Our version of this bill now goes to the Senate, where our senators should vote in support of holding property taxes down and protecting our local schools.

Rep. Ryan Tipping-Spitz, D-Orono, serves as a member of the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee and is a past member of the Taxation and Energy, Utilities and Technology committees.