AUGUSTA — The Legislature’s Education and Cultural Affairs Committee voted last week to recommend the passage of LD 1171, a bill that would promote the Opportunity Maine program by increasing marketing and adding a full time staffer to the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME).
The bill, “An Act To Sustain and Attract Skilled Workers to Maine by Improving the Job Creation Through Educational Opportunity Program,” is sponsored by Sen. Justin Chenette, D-Saco.
The Educational Opportunity Tax Credit, or EOTC, better known as Opportunity Maine, allows Maine residents with a bachelor’s degree to receive up to $4,000 in tax credits or anyone with an associate’s degree to receive up to $800 tax credits if as long as that person stays in Maine or returns to Maine to live and work after college.
Despite the immense benefit provided by the credit, only a fraction of eligible graduates apply for it when they fill out their tax returns, indicating a lack of awareness for the EOTC.
Sen. Chenette’s bill adds a full-time staffer within FAME to promote the Opportunity Maine program and communicate with high school guidance counselors, college career counseling services staff, and Maine Revenue Services to reach the targeted demographic that would benefit most from the tax credit program. It also allocates $30,000 for marketing of the program.
“There is a clear need for debt relief in our state. Our students need to have a chance to start their professional life on solid financial footing, and this bill is a step in that direction,” said Sen. Chenette. “ I am glad the committee is moving this proposal forward so that more students are aware of this program.”
The bill has earned the support of Bill Norbert, the Governmental Affairs and Communications Manager at FAME.
LD 1171 will go before the full Legislature in the coming weeks.