MAINE - Maine moved one step closer to establishing a true community college system when the Joint Standing Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs unanimously endorsed Governor Baldacci's bill transforming Maine's technical colleges into the Maine Community College System.
The committee took up the bill, following a public hearing in which 30 educators, business leaders, students and faculty came out to testify in support of L.D. 1369, "An Act to Create the Maine Community College System."
"I commend my colleagues on the Education Committee for acting swiftly on this important legislation," said Senate Republican Leader Paul T. Davis (R-Sangerville). "Bringing true, low-cost community colleges to Maine people is essential for our economy, and for helping Maine's dislocated citizens reskill for new careers," he said. "It is a step we must take now," he said.
Davis said the bill enjoys broad bipartisan support, with 117 Democratic and Republican sponsors. The prime sponsor is Senate President Beverly Daggett. Senator Davis joined President Daggett, Speaker Patrick Colwell and House Republican Leader Joe Bruno at a press conference Tuesday with Governor John Baldacci to promote the legislation.
"Transforming the Maine Technical College System into the Community College System is the right approach to Maine's needs at this critical time," Davis said.
In voting to endorse the bill, the Education Committee sent the bill to the Appropriations Committee, requesting that the language be included in the biennial budget - to speed its passage. The $1 million appropriation was included in the Governor's proposed budget, and is already in the budget bill.
If the bill is enacted, the Technical Colleges will use the $1 million to beef up student services, including advising and developmental programs. The college names will be changed to "community college" this summer and will welcome the first class of community college students this fall.
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