Michigan’s Free College Tuition Plan

college graduatesMichigan Democrats Unveil Plan To Finance Free College Tuition By Eliminating Corporate Tax Credits

Michigan’s Republican Governor Rick Snyder spent his first year in office trading in the welfare of thousands of vulterable Michiganders in order to cut taxes for corporations and the wealthy. Hoping to refocus priorities in 2012, Michigan’s Senate Democrats have released a new plan that puts Michigan students ahead of wealthy corporations.

Under the Michigan 2020 Plan, Michigan’s high school graduates will be eligible for free tuition at one of Michigan’s community colleges or universities, where the median tuition level is currently around $9,575 per year. The program will be funded entirely by eliminating $3.5 billion in tax credits and loopholes and putting that money towards students:

“Study after study after study has emphasized the importance of a highly educated workforce in the economic vitality of any state in the 21st century,” said Senate Democratic leader Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing.

Michigan currently pays out roughly $34 billion in tax credits. Under the Michigan 2020 Plan recently unveiled, $3.5 billion in tax credits and loopholes would be eliminated. Democrats put the tuition proposal’s cost at least at $1.8 billion. [...]

Under the plan, graduates who spent their entire K-12 years in Michigan schools would be eligible for the full award, which equates to the median tuition level of all public universities — currently $9,575 per year. Those who attended school for awhile outside the state would get a percentage of that amount.

College tuition has tripled in the last 30 years and is only trending upwards. Indeed, college price tags could get as high as $422,000 come 2034. And with student loans increasingly hard to find in a restricted credit market, families could certainly use the help in sending their children to a college close by.

tanya somanaderWhat’s more, Michigan Senate Democrats note that the elimination of $3.5 billion in tax loopholes is only a 10 percent reduction in the tax credits the state already doles out. In fact, the program costs almost exactly as much as the $1.7 billion tax cut Snyder implemented for corporations.

The plan should appeal to Republicans as “it can be done without raising taxes one cent,” said Whitmer. “It’s not about whether Michigan can afford to do this, it’s whether we can afford not to.”

Tanya Somanader
Think Progress
Published by the LA Progressive on January 18, 2012
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About Tanya Somanader

TANYA SOMANADER is a reporter/blogger for ThinkProgress.org at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Tanya grew up in Pepper Pike, Ohio and holds a B.A. in international relations and history from Brown University. Prior to joining ThinkProgress, Tanya was a staff member in the Office of Senator Sherrod Brown, working on issues ranging from foreign policy and defense to civil rights and social policy.