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Last week, the Maine House and Senate passed LD 1726: An Act to Build Maine's Economy by Supporting Child Care for Working Families!

As we’ve reported in the past, the bill was designed to guarantee affordable child care for working Mainers by 2030, and remedy the many challenges facing childcare centers and the workers that operate within them.

The new legislation, which was sponsored by Senate President Troy Jackson, strives to achieve this goal in a number of ways. The bill would establish the Maine Child Care Scholarship Program, direct DHHS to implement a program to achieve affordable child care by 2030, and establish the Child Care Task Force.

A recent study found that of the approximately 37,000 children in Maine that are less than three years old, seventy-percent have mothers in the workforce. The same study found that twenty-two percent of Mainers live in an area where there are more than three times as many children under the age of five as there are licensed child care slots.

LD 1726 is expected to be on the Governor’s desk in the coming weeks. This bill would go a long way to support the thousands of working Mainers with children operating within the workforce to provide for their families. We applaud Senator Jackson for his leadership on this issue and we urge Governor Mills to sign LD 1726 into law.

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Maine’s childcare system is struggling to meet the needs of families.

As we’ve reported in the past, some progress has been made to remedy the many challenges facing childcare centers and the hardworking Mainers that operate within them. But it is clear that the scope of investment needed in the sector requires more action from our lawmakers. Thankfully a group of legislators are stepping up to find solutions for working Mainers.

Senate President Troy Jackson recently introduced LD 1726: An Act to Build Maine's Economy by Supporting Child Care for Working Families. The bill is co-sponsored by at least eight other lawmakers from both chambers of the Maine legislature, including Senator Vitelli of Sagadahoc and Rep. Millett of Cape Elizabeth.

The proposal would:

  • Establish the Maine Child Care Scholarship Program within the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). This program would retroactively reimburse programs that provide its families with tuition assistance, ensuring that they can continue to provide the best child care possible while making them affordable for working families.

  • Direct DHHS to implement a program to achieve affordable child care by 2030. The program would be designed to, over time, ensure that no family making less than 250% of the state’s median household income spends more than 7% of their annual income on child care.

  • Establish the Child Care Task Force to make recommendations to DHHS regarding quality child care, particularly attracting and retaining qualified child care professionals by establishing stronger salary ranges, incentivizing higher education, and increasing support for child care providers that help some of Maine’s most underserved communities. The task force would consist of child care providers; early childhood educators; representatives for state programs on early childhood education, child care providers, and diversity, equity, and inclusion; parents; and economic and policy experts.

LD 1726 would support childcare workers and establish an affordable system across the state for working Mainers. We urge the Legislature to pass this important bill.

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Healthcare costs are out of control. According to a recent survey conducted by Consumers for Affordable Healthcare, more than two-thirds of Mainers say a single major medical event could catapult them into financial disaster. One of the culprits of these crippling out-of-pocket costs are for prescription drugs, with many rationing or going without the medication they need to live healthy lives.

Sen. Camron Reny has introduced a bill to help address the rocketing costs of medication. LD 1829 would require that any prescription drugs that are dispensed or delivered to a consumer in Maine cannot exceed a certain cost. The price will be set at the maximum rate that a drug can cost under Medicare. To ensure that the money these health plans and providers save is put to good use, the bill also lays out that those savings must be used to reduce costs to consumers.

No person should have to ration their medication or go without entirely due to cost. But the costs of medication are soaring, and too many Mainers are put into this position. We cannot afford to drag our feet on this critical issue, and we encourage the Legislature to pass this bill.

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