Educate Maine statement on supporting higher education through the COVID-19 pandemic

September 18, 2020

Governor Mills signed a curtailment order on September 17, which addresses impending revenue shortfalls amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The order is aimed at avoiding deep programmatic cuts and layoffs across the state of Maine during this challenging time.

Among the institutions seeing cuts are the University of Maine System (UMS), the Maine Community College System (MCCS), and Maine Maritime Academy (MMA), all vital education institutions that serve Maine people. Reductions in the state appropriations have been limited to around $2.25M for the UMS, $746,000 for MCCS, and $92,000 for MMA, which represent only about 1% of the overall appropriation, signaling the Mills administration's support for our public higher education institutions.

Educate Maine commends the Governor for her prioritization of Maine’s public education institutions, which play an essential role in educating and training our state’s current and future workforce and conducting research and services that have a significant impact on our state’s economy. With tens of thousands of Mainers projected to lose their jobs this year, these institutions are an essential driver of meeting the state’s attainment goal: 60% of Maine people will have degrees or credentials of value by 2025 that position their families for success. As the global economy contracts and shifts, the ability of our educational infrastructure to meet changing workforce needs is more important than ever for our economic recovery and future economic growth.

Additionally, these institutions are models of community-focused organizations, stepping up to provide hotspots, personal protective equipment, new educational opportunities, systems coordination, and direct support to businesses while keeping their students’ needs at the center. They exemplify a commitment to the public good and provide a source of stability and future growth for Maine, especially as economic pillars of our rural regions. Their actions throughout the pandemic have demonstrated only the tip of the iceberg of their immense value to our state and our people. Preserving our support of these institutions today is a wise and strategic investment in our state’s future. 

Maine's private colleges and universities also need to be applauded for the way they have supported the people of Maine prior to and during the pandemic. We need to continue to support Maine's higher education institutions moving forward as an essential way to improve Maine's economy and help Maine families thrive. 

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