Lansing – Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing) announced today that the legislation to enact the Michigan 2020 Plan was introduced in the Michigan Senate this morning. The plan, which would cover the cost of college tuition for all Michigan high school graduates, has been touted by education officials, business leaders and economists as the best investment Michigan can make to rebuild our economy and bring job providers to our state.
“Employers continue to tell us that they will bring jobs to areas with a highly skilled workforce, and there’s no better way Michigan can create that than to ensure that all of our students have access to a world class education,” said Whitmer. “I’m now calling on my Republican colleagues to hold hearings on this legislation as quickly as possible so that we can enact it in time for this year’s graduates to be the inaugural class of the Michigan 2020 Plan.”
Under the Michigan 2020 Plan, high school graduates in Michigan, whether they attended a public or private school or 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 $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.
“Michigan ranks 42nd in the nation in per-capita spending on higher education,” said Senator Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor). “When the state allocates so little to public universities and community colleges, our students and their families pay more. As obtaining a degree becomes a critical requirement for success in today’s economy, we must focus our efforts on providing this opportunity for all of our children. The Michigan 2020 Plan will ensure that our children have access to a college degree, and will push our economy into overdrive.”
“Today is a pivotal moment for Michigan as we introduce the Michigan 2020 Plan legislation to increase access to a college education for all students, create jobs and attract employers to our state,” said Senator Vincent Gregory (D-Southfield). “In the last year, there has not been a single piece of legislation that could have as positive and profound of an impact on Michigan’s future as this, and I hope the Legislature recognizes this and acts accordingly to pass it into law.”
The estimated $1.8 billion per year cost of the Michigan 2020 Plan would be funded entirely by eliminating ineffective corporate tax loopholes that are carved out by special interest lobbyists, as well as cutting costs within the thousands of contracts that the state currently administers. Michigan currently grants nearly $35 billion annually in tax credits with little transparency or accountability that ensures they are effective in growing our economy or job market. Eliminating a mere 5% of those tax credits would more than fund the Michigan 2020 Plan.
“I am proud to be a sponsor of the Michigan 2020 Plan,” said Senator Morris Hood III (D – Detroit). “With this legislation we have the ability to expand college accessibility, free students from economic restrictions when considering a college degree and help put a spark to Michigan’s economy – all without raising a single tax or fee. I look forward to getting to work on making this legislation a reality.”
The four bills in the package of legislation introduced this morning were sponsored by Senator Rebekah Warren, Senator Hoon-Yung Hopgood, Senator Morris Hood III and Senator Vincent Gregory, and were co-sponsored by the entire Senate Democratic Caucus. The bills would establish the Michigan 2020 grant program, require that all tax credits sunset every four years, require the state fiscal agencies to grade all tax credits based on the number of jobs they create, and assign a legislative commission to review all $35 billion worth of tax credits and recommend those that should be eliminated.
A fifth bill in the package is expected to be introduced soon that would provide one year of assistance to current college students that had qualified for the now defunct Michigan Promise scholarship. Whitmer pointed out that unlike that program, the Michigan 2020 Plan would create a dedicated source of funding for the program to ensure the Legislature could not simply eliminate it to pay for other projects. More information on the Michigan 2020 Plan can be found at www.Michigan2020.com.
“As Michigan’s economy evolves to compete in the 21st Century global economy, the value of a college degree has increased exponentially,” said Senator Hoon-Yung Hopgood (D – Taylor). “The Michigan 2020 Plan will make Michigan a leader in the quest to recruit the jobs of the future, and will push our economy to the top of the list in terms of global competitiveness. Further, this plan will equip every student in Michigan with the tools they need as individuals to succeed in this rapidly changing economic landscape.”
Companion legislation to enact the Michigan 2020 Plan is expected to be introduced in the Michigan House of Representatives this afternoon. The bills will be sponsored by Rep. Steve Lindberg, Rep. Brandon Dillon, Rep. Joan Bauer, and Rep. Marcia Hovey-Wright.