L.D. 647, An Act To Attract, Educate and Retain New State Residents To Strengthen the Workforce, MeBIC’s highest legislative priority during this state legislative session, made good progress in early March.
MeBIC and partners proposed that at least $475,000 be earmarked for sections 2,3, and 5 of the bill in the supplemental budget’s line for workforce development-related adult education funding. MeBIC was gratified when the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee and the Innovation, Development and Economic Advancement Committee both supported that recommendation in their budget reports to the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee.
Only days later, the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic descended on the State House, appropriately prompting revised revenue forecasts and a substantially revised supplemental budget. Funds for workforce development-related adult education programming were cut in half, with no specific recommendations for how they would be spent, in the supplemental budget enacted by the Legislature prior to its early adjournment.
MeBIC will continue to work for funding for L.D. 647 if the Legislature returns for a special session after the COVID-19 crisis wanes. In the meantime, MeBIC is advocating with the Department of Education to stress the continued importance of directing adult education funding to increasing capacity to educate the English language learners who are so critical for Maine’s vibrant communities and workforce.