PROPOSAL WOULD EXPAND OPPORTUNITY MAINE TAX CREDIT TO OUT OF STATE COLLEGE GRADS & ADVANCED DEGREE EARNERS
Maine’s business community rallies behind bill to attract more Maine talent
AUGUSTA–A measure that strengthens the state’s Opportunity Maine tax credit by expanding it to graduate degree earners and Maine residents who obtained their degree out of state received broad support at a public hearing today in the state’s Taxation Committee.
“If we’re serious about attracting talent to Maine and making higher education more affordable, we must make Maine more attractive to educated workers post-graduation,” said Senate Democratic Leader Justin Alfond of Portland, the sponsor of the measure. “Strengthening the Opportunity Maine tax credit is exactly the type of coordinated investments that our state must make.”
In addition to expanding the credit to graduate degree earners and Maine residents who obtained their degree out of state, the bill, LD 1383, “An Act To Attract Young People to Maine by Expanding the Job Creation Through Educational Opportunity Program,” clarifies that the credit also applies to student loans that have been consolidated.
Senator Alfond began working on the Opportunity Maine program back in 2007 when he was the state director of the Maine League of Young Voters. He along with other student activists developed the idea that would eventually become the Opportunity Maine program. In 2008, the legislature passed the initiative into law and created the Opportunity Education Tax Credit program. Today, more than 2,600 graduates are enrolled in the Opportunity Education Tax Credit. Eligible graduates can claim over $4,000 a year for an undergraduate degree and $800 a year for an associates degree.
“Our kids want to return home to Maine – with newly minted degrees in hand – to begin their careers; however, they’re overly burdened by debt and often feel compelled to seek higher incomes in other states in order to tackle their student loans,” said Democratic State Senator Cathy Breen of Falmouth, who testified in support of the bill. “This bill says to them: ‘Come home to Maine where you can put your degree, your skills, and your experiences to work and we will help you tackle your student loans’.”
The measure was supported by LL Bean, UNUM, WinXnet, among other businesses and advocates.
The Taxation Committee has scheduled a work session on the measure for tomorrow.