Seemed like a good idea

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A recent editorial (July 11) remarks the newly passed “Act to Allow a Tax Credit for College Loan Repayments” has attracted national interest and praise. This news brings me no cheer.

The idea is plausible. Any kind of a tax break must be a good thing. A highly educated workforce is good for business, but a majority of our graduates leave the state. So we help solve the problem by offering them money in the form of a tax subsidy in the hope that they’ll hang around Maine until businesses show up to employ them.

There are a number of offsetting problems.

First, the benefit of a tax break will be clear to the graduate getting it, but the bill provides no means of determining the benefit to the state’s economy. No way of balancing costs against benefits. None.

Second, as a board member of the Farmington Area Alumni Association I’ve helped review scholarship applications. At least half stated the intent to stay in Maine. So perhaps half the subsidy expenditure will be irrelevant to the goal of keeping graduates north of the Kittery Bridge.

Third, the bill discriminates against students who go out of state for specialized studies. I’ve seen a fair number of applicants who planned to do this. Even if they return to Maine, they will receive no tax advantage.

Fourth, the bill will indiscriminately subsidize the children of millionaires who need no support and the children of mill workers who do.

John N. Frary, Farmington

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