MECEP develops and advances policy solutions that help families thrive, such as a minimum wage increase, a student loan borrowers’ bill of rights, and tax credits that put money back into people’s pockets.
A Fairer Tax Code
The people who earn the least shouldn’t pay the most in taxes. Maine has failed that basic test of tax fairness for generations, but in 2020, for the first time in decades, Mainers with the lowest incomes will no longer pay a larger share of their income to state and local taxes than the wealthiest. This achievement is the result of MECEP’s work to create, expand, and improve tax credits and exemptions that benefit families with low incomes, such as the EITC and Homestead Exemption.
Those households are now eligible for more than $2,000 in refundable tax credits annually. That extra money helps hundreds of thousands of families afford the basics.
Greater Economic Security
MECEP has conducted the research to support successful campaigns to increase Mainers’ incomes. That includes the citizen initiative to increase Maine’s minimum wage to $12, which has already spurred the largest wage increase for low-income Mainers and the steepest decline in child poverty in a decade.
MECEP also helped create and win Maine’s new, first-in-the-nation statewide law for paid time off. The ability to take paid leave in the event of illness or emergency will save Mainers millions of dollars in lost wages.
Improved Access to
Mainers want more health care, not less. MECEP was a leader in the 2017 Medicaid expansion referendum, which made 70,000 Mainers with low incomes eligible for health care coverage through the Affordable Care Act.
MECEP partnered with our allies to demonstrate the health and economic benefits of Medicaid expansion — including the nearly 6,000 jobs and $684 million in economic activity generated by additional coverage and federal funds. Now that expansion is the law of the land, our state is beginning to reap those benefits.
Protection from Predatory Student Loan Companies
MECEP’s research on the effect of predatory student loan servicers prompted enactment of a new Student Loan Bill of Rights, which will protect Mainers from unnecessary fees and charges, reduced credit scores, and even bankruptcy.
Mainers carry more than $6 billion in education debt. Thanks to MECEP’s work, student loan companies will have to work in good faith to help borrowers pay down their debt. And they’ll have to answer to a new State Student Loan Ombudsman when borrowers report being mistreated.