Democrats protest Rep. Poliquin’s vote to cut Pell grants for poor students

Democrats protest Rep. Poliquin’s vote to cut Pell grants for poor students

Rep. Adam Goode of Bangor speaks at the Democrats' press conference

Rep. Adam Goode of Bangor speaks at the Democrats’ press conference

On Monday, Maine Democrats once again made an issue of Second-District Representative Bruce Poliquin’s vote for the House Republican budget plan, this time highlighting a part of the legislation that would roll back Pell grants for needy college students.

“Republicans in Congress should be doing everything they can to support this program and bolster our workforce,” said Rep. Mattie Daughtry of Brunswick, who was one of several young elected Democrats who gathered on the campus of the University of Maine in Orono to speak against Poliquin’s vote. “Instead they continue to use Pell Grants as a negotiating chip and peel away at its financial support. Congressman Poliquin needs to stop playing games with our state’s future and our students’ education.”

More than nine million students nationally and 30,000 in Maine received Pell grants during the 2013-2014 school year. The program is targeted towards students with high financial need who are pursuing a first college degree. Maine has one of the highest student debt burdens in the country.

The GOP budget proposal would freeze funding, cap the maximum grant and prevent an increased investment in the program favored by President Obama. Even at current levels, the grants often fall far short of the cost of higher education.

“Despite the fact that so many of our neighbors struggle to make ends meet, Congressman Poliquin is trying to make it harder for people to pay for an education and work their way out of poverty,” said Rep. Adam Goode of Bangor. “It is frustrating to have someone representing us in Washington who has more in common with Wall Street than Main Street. We must do more to keep our college educated graduates here in Maine”

Democrats note that Poliquin said at the time that he was “excited” to cast the vote, which was also an endorsement of other controversial provisions, including privatizing Medicare.

Photos via Flickr/OlaUSAola, Maine Democratic Party

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