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Opportunity Maine Uses Cash to Stem Brain Drain

July 11, 2007

A bill designed to keep new Maine graduates living and working in the state after college became law last week with Gov. John Baldacci’s signature. The Opportunity Maine bill, LD 1856, creates a tax credit to assist graduates with their student loan payments and enables employers of graduates to pay off the student loans.


Under the bill, tax credits of up to $2,100 per year or $8,400 total are provided for graduates who spend all four years in the University of Maine System or Maine Community College System. The credits can only be claimed while the person resides and works in the state. The legislation also allows for employers of Maine graduates to assume the student loan debt and collect the tax credits.


Program goals are to ensure access to training and higher education, bring higher paying jobs to the state, offer educational opportunity and retraining, and retain a workforce of young, educated individuals.


The fiscal impact to the state will rise substantially over time and require a commitment by future legislatures. Unused credits may be carried over for up to 10 years and more graduates and employers are expected to be added to the program each year, according to the fiscal note. Under the bill, $148,000 is directed to the program for fiscal year 2008-09 and this amount is expected to increase to $9.1 million in FY 2011-12 and $62.9 million in FY 2017-18.