Governor LePage’s Change Package Helps National Guard Tuition Waiver Bill Advance

Bill gets unanimous “Ought to Pass” vote out of committee

Augusta – Wednesday afternoon, members of the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee gave unanimous approval to a bill that would give an educational pathway for post-secondary education for members of the Maine National Guard. LD 1343 “An Act To Increase Access to Postsecondary Education for Maine National Guard Members” would provide a 100 percent tuition waiver at any school in the University of Maine System, Maine Community College System and the Maine Maritime Academy for any qualified members of the Maine National Guard.

Governor LePage provided $1,000,000 over the next biennium, $500,000 each year, as part of his change package to his biennial budget proposal.

“I will continue to work with Rep. Fredette to reaffirm our support for the Maine National Guard. As a state with one of the highest number of veterans per capita in our country, it is important we invest in the men and women who serve. It is equally important to attract the brightest and best to our state to live and raise their families for generations to come,” said Governor LePage.

“A lot of work has gone into this bill. This has been a bipartisan effort from the beginning,” said Rep. Fredette, currently a Lt. Colonel in the Maine Air National Guard serving as a Judge Advocate General (JAG). “I want to thank Governor LePage for proposing a funding mechanism for this important bill. Our military people, including the National Guard, are the true one percenters in our state and we should be supporting them with this important education waiver no matter how it’s funded.”

“Helping student veterans get a college degree is one small way to thank our service men and women for their service. It’s also one way to make our state stronger and more vibrant with a skilled workforce,” said Democratic State Senator Nate Libby of Lewiston, lead co-sponsor of the measure. “Veterans make good students and neighbors–and this bill is one way to make Maine a welcoming state for veterans to live, study, and work in.”

Maine’s colleges and universities have also expressed their support for the measure. The bill will next head to the House floor.

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