LD 1774 – An Act To Reduce Child Poverty by Leveraging Investments in Families Tomorrow (LIFT)

AUGUSTA – An amended version of Speaker of the House Sara Gideon’s LIFT legislation won the unanimous support of the Health and Human Services Committee on Tuesday. An Act To Reduce Child Poverty by  Leveraging Investments in Families Tomorrow (LIFT) is  intended to strengthen the financial stability of low-income families with children through increased access to higher education and training. Gideon worked on the amendment with Rep. Deborah Sanderson (R-Chelsea) and garnered the support of the Office of Family Independence in the Department of Health and Human Services.

“It was critical that this legislation focused on the ultimate goal of making sure that families can gain independence and can build their own path to prosperity,” said Gideon. “LIFT does this in a simple and straightforward way – through increased access to education and training services. It also will also have the result of increasing the numbers of higher skilled workers badly needed by Maine’s employers and our economy. I look forward to moving this legislation forward.”

The amended version of LD 1774 establishes the Higher Opportunity Pathways to Employment (HOPE) program, modeled after the current Parents as Scholars program. HOPE will be available to families with incomes at or below 185% of the federal poverty level pursuing a post-secondary degree or credential that has at least an average job outlook as identified by the Department of Labor. The program will be supported with existing federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families block grant funds.

The bill is a continuation of Gideon’s work from the previous session that addressed some of the immediate needs of people living in deep poverty and stabilize families by ensuring basics like housing and heat. As a result of these initiatives, approximately 2600 Maine families were lifted out of deep poverty.

“This legislation is squarely aimed at ensuring that every Mainer can provide for their families. I knew this is a goal we all share and the strong bipartisan support from the committee today displays exactly that.”

The bill faces further votes in the House and Senate.