President Joe Biden delivers remarks at NJ Transit Meadowlands Maintenance Complex to promote his "Build Back Better" agenda, Monday, Oct. 25, 2021, in Kearny, N.J. Credit: Evan Vucci / AP

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Dean Staffieri is president of MSEA-SEIU Local 1989. Heather Marden is the policy director at the Maine Association for the Education of Young Children. Abbie Bradford is the outreach coordinator at Maine Conservation Voters.

In November, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the most significant climate, care and jobs legislation in our nation’s history — the Build Back Better Act. The package as a whole will likely not make it to the Senate, but significant pieces likely will. Maine families are counting on our Senators to help pass the most comprehensive bill possible.

Sen. Angus King has been a strong advocate for this bill. We thank him for his commitment and urge him to  keep the pressure on his colleagues to pass transformative action. Sen. Susan Collins has not stepped up to support this critical legislation and we need to tell her what that means for our families and our future.

Families across our state are struggling to make ends meet. The investments in the Build Back Better Act will help Maine families thrive and create a better future by investing in climate resilience, lowering childcare costs, creating good-paying union jobs in clean energy, and much more.

That’s why Maine  farmers,  public health advocates,  union workers,  environmental organizations,  veterans groups,  health care advocates,  state lawmakers,  local officials,  faith leaders,  businesspeople and more have been fighting for the Build Back Better Act for months.

Investments in the Build Back Better Act will make child care more affordable for families, compensate educators and providers fairly, and create more child care and pre-K options. This will enable families to choose the quality setting that works best for them: a child care center, family child care, faith-based program, Head Start, or school. Around 90 percent of Maine families would qualify to pay no more than 7 percent of their income on their total child care costs. This support for parents will allow programs to increase compensation for educators without burdening families. Maine families and childcare providers need this relief.

The House-passed Build Back Better Act will also  save the average family $500 a year on their energy bills. Energy efficiency and clean energy investments, combined with capping the cost of childcare, expanding the Child Tax Credit, expanding the Affordable Care Act, and closing the Medicaid coverage gap – will help bring down people’s everyday costs,  saving the average family of four up to $7,400 a year in tax cuts and lower costs.

Expanding Maine’s clean energy economy will also help us build a healthier, livable future.  Mainers know the impacts of climate change because we feel them every day — from unseasonably warm, wet, and icy winters; more frequent and intense “heat days” in the summer; drought and unpredictable seasons hurting Maine farmers; a warming and acidifying Gulf of Maine threatening our fisheries; booming tick populations carrying Lyme disease; and more.

Investing in clean energy will modernize our economy and create millions of good-paying jobs. Together with the recently passed Infrastructure and Jobs Act, the House-passed Build Back Better Act would add nearly $3 trillion to the U.S. economy and  create 1.5 million jobs a year for the next decade. That includes $110 billion in domestic manufacturing for clean energy technology.

That means real jobs right here in Maine.  As of 2019, over 14,000 Mainers were working in the clean energy field. Nationally, clean energy jobs offer 25 percent higher wages than most sectors, plus competitive benefits such as retirement and health insurance. This bill could dramatically increase Maine’s already growing clean energy industry.

We need to pass the most comprehensive Build Back Better Act possible to address the climate crisis at the scale and speed that science and justice demand; to bring much needed relief to Maine families, childcare providers, and educators; and to create good-paying, union jobs in our growing clean energy economy. The U.S. Senate has a chance to deliver for every single person in Maine and we need to encourage Senator King to keep up the good fight and Senator Collins to get on board.