Thursday, May 24, 2007

Opportunity Maine Lobbies Lawmakes With Noted Author Anya Kamenetz

Kamenetz ("Generation Debt") and other experts address legislators at news conference and public testimony on bill to lift student debt burden

AUGUSTA — Noted author Anya Kamenetz joined Opportunity Maine and The League of Young Voters at the State House on Thursday, May 24, where they asked legislators to approve a bill that would ease the burden of mounting student debt to insure job growth and a more vibrant and sustainable economy.

The Opportunity Maine initiative will allow any person who graduates from a Maine community college, university or private college — and agrees to live and work in the State after graduation — to earn a tax credit to help pay their student loans.

“It’s amazing to me to see so many people from all over Maine come together to try to solve a problem that could burden the economy for generations,” said Kamenetz, the author of widely-praised “Generation Debt.”

“There is a startling array of evidence that building a secure life, let alone surviving, is harder for young people today than it was 30 years ago. Young people from all over the country and all walks of life are struggling to achieve their dreams despite layoffs, unsupportive parents, grinding low-wage jobs, and 25.99% APRs. Opportunity Maine would be a good start to helping people in Maine have a chance for a better future.”

Opportunity Maine was conceived by a coalition of students and community leaders who saw that it was becoming more difficult for Mainers to afford to live in Maine for low-wages and while trying to pay back their student loans. More than 400 volunteers gathered over 70,000 signatures to put the measure before voters in November 2007, but organizers were in Augusta today to urge lawmakers to pass the measure outright.

“From the very beginning, we have expected that we would have to mount a full campaign, not only to make certain that this type of legislation passes, but to also educate Mainers about the importance of affordable education so we all can follow our dreams and live better lives,” said Andrew Bossie, the president of Opportunity Maine. “Receiving an education has never been so costly, but a degree is the ticket to finding a good job or getting back into the workforce; Opportunity Maine will help us build a healthier economy and make Maine an even better place to live, work, and raise a family.”

Justin Alfond, the Maine State director of The League of Young Voters, said that the Opportunity Maine campaign, with whom his group has partnered, represents a tide change in the way that young people are working together and with other generations to make Maine a better place to live.

“The League of Young Voters is thrilled to be working side-by-side with Opportunity Maine. Maine is unique in its strong network of young advocates for positive change, and making it easier for people to get an education here is something anyone can get behind,” said Alfond. “It would be great for the legislature to do the right thing to ensure a healthier and more vibrant Maine economy, but we’re also looking forward to hitting the streets to let people in Maine know that the time has come for better opportunities for all Mainers.”

The Maine Legislature is expected to vote on Opportunity Maine in the coming weeks. To learn more about the campaign, connect to

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