The Star-Herald

Question 4 and 5 would greatly benefit The County

To the editor:

This November, Mainers have the opportunity to make historic investments in the public higher education systems that prepare the state’s future workforce and ensure our economy can keep growing.

Question 4 will provide $49 million for the University of Maine System, $7.5 million of which would be invested right here in Aroostook County between the Universities of Maine at Presque Isle and Fort Kent.  Meanwhile Question 5 will provide $15 million to the Maine Community College System, $1.2 million of which would come to Northern Maine Community College. Bond funds would be directed at projects that improve and expand high-use education and training facilities to produce more of the job-ready graduates that Maine employers need.

As a member of the Maine Legislature’s Education and Cultural Affairs Committee, I can tell you that these important investments moved to the top of more than $1 billion in bond requests we reviewed because we know our state cannot wait any longer to address critical shortages in our workforce.

Our county, like so many other rural parts of our state, is in dire need of more nurses to care for our aging population. Voting Yes on Questions 4 and 5 will help these local campuses expand nursing enrollment, allowing County residents who want to pursue a nursing career get their education close to home and quickly get into the workforce with less student debt. These funds would also help upgrade critical trades programs to allow graduates to pursue lucrative careers without leaving The County.

My House District in Presque Isle is the only one in Maine that includes both a public university and community college. I see first-hand how these campuses increasingly collaborate to lower costs, improve the quality and relevance of the education they offer, and serve the needs of both the local community and the state.

Aroostook County depends on these campuses. I urge you to please vote YES on Questions 4 and 5 to show our support for all they contribute to our communities and ensure that The County is able to capitalize on this historic opportunity to move our economy forward.

Rep. Trey Stewart

Presque Isle

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