Governor Mills Welcomes First Lady Jill Biden and U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to Maine

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — Biden-Harris Administration’s “Investing in America” Tour to Spotlight Free Community College Initiative Proposed by Governor Mills

Governor Janet Mills issued the following statement welcoming First Lady Jill Biden and U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona to Maine today:

“While I am unable to join our visiting dignitaries in person, I am excited to welcome the First Lady and Secretary Cardona to Maine. My Administration’s free Community College initiative and other crucial investments from the Biden-Harris Administration are providing important new opportunities for Maine people to get a high-quality education at little or no cost that allows them to take good-paying jobs in rewarding careers – a win for our students, for our employers, and for our economy.

“I hope the success of our free Community College initiative – which has led to record enrollment in the Maine Community College System – can serve as a model for other states. I look forward to working with the Biden-Harris Administration in the years to come to provide more pathways to education and good-paying jobs for Maine people. When we invest in our greatest asset – Maine people – we build a stronger, more prosperous state.”

Dr. Biden and U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, along with Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, will visit Southern Maine Community College (SMCC) this morning as part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Investing in America Tour to highlight how President Biden’s economic policies are benefiting hardworking Americans across the country.

Governor Mills had been scheduled to participate in the visit but is isolating, working remotely, and continuing to feel fine after testing positive for COVID-19 on Sunday. In the Governor’s absence, Commissioner of Economic and Community Development Heather Johnson will represent the Mills Administration.

During their visit to SMCC, Dr. Biden and Secretary Cardona will learn how Maine’s free community college initiative and historic Federal investments from the Biden-Harris Administration allocated through the Governor’s Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan are creating rewarding new career opportunities for Maine people.

In 2022, Governor Mills proposed, and the Legislature passed, Maine’s free community college initiative to help students whose aspirations for higher education were disrupted by the pandemic pursue affordable higher education and prepare for good-paying careers.

The initiative provides Maine high school graduates from the classes of 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023 with a scholarship to cover the cost of Maine Community College System tuition and mandatory fees, once other available state and federal aid is applied. In the first year of the initiative, enrollment at Maine’s community college system increased by a record 12 percent. Governor Mills has proposed continuing the program for students from the high school graduating classes of 2024 and 2025.

Historic investments by the Biden Administration are also creating jobs and career opportunities for Maine people in in-demand fields such as precision manufacturing, clean energy, and health care. Through the Governor’s Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, Maine has delivered $35 million in federal American Rescue Plan funds to create 8,500 new workforce training opportunities at Maine’s seven community colleges in health care, clean energy, manufacturing, hospitality, education, computer technology, and the trades.