EDITOR’S NOTE: The following testimony was delivered by Megan Diver, senior government relations specialist, on behalf of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce in support of LD 2014, An Act To Amend The Laws Governing The Maine State Grant Program, at a public hearing held on Wednesday, February 12, 2020, before the Joint Standing Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs. We have reprinted it here for your review. Megan Diver can be reached directly by calling (207) 623-4568, ext. 108, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Senator Millet, Representative Kornfield, distinguished members of the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee. I am Megan Diver, senior government relations specialist at the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, a statewide business association representing both large and small businesses across the state. The Maine State Chamber of Commerce is also proud to be a co-leader of the MaineSpark Coalition that is dedicated to achieving the state goal that 60 percent of Maine adults have a credential of value by 2025.
I am pleased to be here before you today to talk about the Chamber’s support for LD 2014. The Chamber and our business members believe strongly that education is the most important investment that can be made to ensure successful participation in the new, knowledge-based economy. Post-secondary education and training is critical for creating a strong economy and to ensure success in the workforce. Education is the best means for individuals to create a better future for themselves or their families, and an educated workforce benefits all of us by making the economy more productive and making Maine a place that families want to live and for businesses to thrive, expand and be successful.
College affordability and student debt is a predicament that lies before many. Investing in our higher education institutions is the best way to address student debt. Many Maine college students experience an “affordability gap” in their ability to pay for the complete costs associated with college. Too many in our state choose not to pursue higher education or fail to complete their programs due to an inability to afford the price or financial pressures once enrolled, creating a worst situation for themselves by being burdened by college debt but with no credential to show for it.
Amending the State of Maine Grant to allow adult learners benefiting from a grant under the Maine State Grant Program to receive up to 12 semesters' worth of grant funding will help Maine's economy work and ensure that Mainers’ education and career choices aren't dictated by their financial situation allowing them the opportunity to succeed, regardless of income.
The Chamber urges the committee to support amending the Maine State Grant program, to encourage more Mainers to attend and complete college, and ultimately strengthening our state's economy.