Lansing – Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer attended the Business Leaders for Michigan Leadership Summit in Lansing today to promote the Michigan 2020 Plan that would offer free college tuition to all Michigan high school graduates. The topic of today’s summit was “Growing a Higher Education Marketplace,” touching on a recurring theme of many business experts and economists that say a well-educated workforce links directly to economic prosperity.
“The business leaders at today’s summit are the opinion-makers and job-creators in Michigan now and in the future, and I am pleased to see that they are analyzing the impact of higher education on our economy,” said Whitmer. “As several speakers noted today, a college degree is becoming more and more integral to economic success as an individual and as a state, and we need to find ways to increase college attendance and graduation in Michigan. We have been crunching the same numbers that they have, and used them to develop the Michigan 2020 Plan that would make a higher education and the economic impact that comes with it available to all Michigan high school graduates.”
Under the Michigan 2020 Plan, high school graduates in Michigan, whether they attended a public, private or home school, 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 $9,575/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 has been gaining attention and traction over the last few weeks. Whitmer and the Senate Democrats held a $10,000 scholarship competition where Michigan high school seniors were asked to submit a short video on what a free higher education would mean to them and their families. Last Wednesday, Senator Whitmer was joined by economist Lou Glazer, Kalamazoo Promise Executive Administrator Bob Jorth and several parents and high school and college students to testify before the Senate Finance Committee in support of the Michigan 2020 legislation.
“College attainment is now trumping everything in terms of explaining prosperity, a broad middle class and higher income at the personal level,” said Lou Glazer, President of Michigan Future, Inc., in his testimony to the Senate Finance Committee on the Michigan 2020 Plan. “By far, the single best predictor of both a state’s per capita income and a metropolitan area’s per capita income is the proportion of adults with a four year degree.”
Senator Whitmer and supporters of the Michigan 2020 Plan are hopeful that the Senate Finance Committee will take the bills up for a vote soon, especially with the increased emphasis on higher education by the business community. Senator Whitmer encourages Michigan residents to contact their legislators and tell them to support the Michigan 2020 Plan.
More information on the Michigan 2020 Plan is available at www.michigan2020.com.