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

AUGUSTA – Speaker of the House Sara Gideon’s LIFT legislation is now officially chaptered Maine law. The legislation received bipartisan support in the House and Senate and continues Gideon’s work focusing on creating sustainable pathways out of poverty and into prosperity for all Maine families. 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. These job-training programs are specifically designed to ensure placement in a secure profession with economic stability.

“It was critical that I focused my work this session on the ultimate goal of making sure that families can gain financial independence and 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 will also have the result of increasing the numbers of higher-skilled workers badly needed by Maine’s employers and our economy. I am so proud that this bill is now a law.”

According to multiple recent reports, including the latest from the Maine Development Foundation and the Chamber of Commerce, Maine is facing a workforce shortage that will only become more severe in the years ahead. This bill is one strategy to help employers get the employees they need and get Mainers into good paying jobs. The legislation gained a wide array of supporters including Maine Equal Justice Partners, Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems, Coastal Enterprises, Inc, the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, Educate Maine and the Maine Center for Economic Policy.

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.

This legislation 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 stabilized 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. When people can make ends meet, it helps families while growing the economy. At the same time, it will increase the numbers of higher skilled workers badly needed by Maine’s employers and our economy. I knew this was a goal we all share,” said Gideon. There’s always more work to be done and I pledge to continue to work on legislation that creates more opportunity for all Maine people.”

The legislation went ‘under the hammer’ in both the House and the Senate and went into law without the governor’s signature.