Senator Gretchen Whitmer

Ingham County: Alaiedon Township, Aurelius Township, Delhi Charter Township, East Lansing, Ingham Township, Lansing, Lansing Township, Leroy Township, Locke Township, Meridian Township, Onondaga Township, Wheatfield Township, White Oak Township, Williamston, Williamstown Township

Whitmer Calls for Action on Michigan 2020 Plan to Offer Free College Tuition

Business and education experts make case for plan during popular radio program

LANSING – Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing) today called on legislators to take action on the Michigan 2020 Plan following a healthy discussion of the proposal on Michigan's Big Show radio program with Michael Patrick Shiels, which Whitmer cohosted this morning. The Senate Democrats' Michigan 2020 Plan, which was first developed last year, would provide free college tuition at one of Michigan's community colleges or public universities for all Michigan high school graduates, without raising taxes a single cent.

“This is an innovative proposal that could change the course of Michigan's future, and I appreciate the opportunity to discuss this issue with a statewide audience today,” said Whitmer. “This morning, we heard from economists and business experts, elected officials, educators, parents and students on the Michigan 2020 Plan and what it could do to help our families, businesses and communities. They couldn't understand why any Michigan elected officials would be opposed to this plan, and quite frankly, it's time for the Senate to start moving this process forward.”

Under the Michigan 2020 Plan, high school graduates in Michigan, whether they attended a public or private school or were home schooled, would be eligible for an annual grant for their higher education costs. The maximum amount of the grant would be equal to the median tuition level (currently $10,617/year) of all of Michigan's public universities. Students could choose to attend any of Michigan's community colleges or public universities and use that money toward the cost of tuition, books and other eligible expenses.

The Michigan 2020 Plan would be funded entirely by eliminating the ineffective tax loopholes that are carved out by special interest lobbyists. Michigan currently grants nearly $35 billion in tax credits with little transparency or accountability that ensures they are effective in growing our economy or job market. Under the Michigan 2020 Plan, an independent, nonpartisan commission would be tasked with eliminating 10% of the tax expenditures that no longer serve a purpose in creating jobs or benefitting the people of Michigan, which would be more than enough to cover the plan’s approximate $1.8 billion annual cost on an ongoing basis.

“The Michigan 2020 Plan makes business sense and it makes common sense, and it's time for the Republican-led Legislature to stop politicizing this issue and prioritize making college more accessible and affordable,” said Whitmer. “Economists tell us that an educated workforce is the number one factor in attracting businesses and generating jobs, much more so than cutting taxes. For someone who is supposedly so driven by metrics, it's time for Governor Snyder to acknowledge his business tax cuts aren't working and that the Michigan 2020 Plan is an economic proposal that could bring real results.”

The list of participants in today's broadcast of Michigan's Big Show focusing on the Michigan 2020 Plan and full audio of their interviews can be found here: http://michigansbigshow.blogspot.com/. Full details of the Michigan 2020 Plan are available online at www.michigan2020.com.

In conjunction with the Michigan 2020 Plan, the Senate Democrats are also holding the #mi2020 Scholarship Competition, a video competition that will award one high school senior with $10,000 for their first year's expenses at a public Michigan university or community college. To enter, students are asked to submit a short web video that explains why Michigan needs to enact the Senate Democrats' Michigan 2020 Plan to offer free college tuition to all students. For more information on the #mi2020 Scholarship Competition, including eligibility, judging criteria and how to enter, go to www.michigan2020.com/competition.