Michigan Democrats unveil plan to finance free college tuition by eliminating corporate income tax credits

This just in from our friends at Think Progress:

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) spent his first year in office trading in the welfare of thousands of vulnerable Michiganders in order to cut taxes for corporations and the wealthy. Hoping to refocus priorities in 2012, the state’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.

The article goes on to say that, according to Michigan Senate Democrats, the elimination of $3.5 billion in tax loopholes, which would fund this program, is only a 10% reduction in the tax credits already extended by the state.

[The rest of the article, which goes into the details, can be found here.]

In related news, it was reported a few days ago by the right wing think tank, The Center for Michigan, that, “Michigan families pay more to send their children to state universities than families in almost any other state… (while Michigan) gives less money to its public universities than almost any other state.”

It’s probably also worth noting that Michigan is one of the few states that spends more on prisons than higher education.

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  1. Ale Roka
    Posted January 17, 2012 at 10:53 pm | Permalink


  2. Mr. X
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    Can someone who understands the numbers weigh in on how real this is? Is it just a PR move by the Democrats in Lansing, or is it something that we could actually really do?

  3. mk
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    This will never pass, some things need to be earned and I believe higher education is one of them. My opinion is that if you aren’t smart enough to get that education on your own, it will not do you any good. Then you’ll have people with degrees who cant find a good job, and will think they’re too good to workat ones the are able to get. Just my opinion based on life.

  4. cmadler
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    @mk “My opinion is that if you aren’t smart enough to get that education on your own, it will not do you any good.”

    At age 18-22, the age at which most people go (or want to go) to college, “smart enough” has zero correlation with “financially able”.

  5. Edward
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    Personally, I’d rather see the money used for k-12 education, but the money is better spent on college education than on prisons, and more corporate tax breaks.

    Can anyone tell me how this would be different than the Kalamazoo Promise?


  6. Edward
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    From the Center for Michigan report:

    A Bridge Magazine analysis revealed that student loans at Michigan’s 15 public universities increased an incredible 49 percent in four years. From the 2007 to the 2010 academic year, the annual amount of loans taken out by college students jumped $600 million, reaching $1.8 billion at the state’s public universities in the 2009-10 academic year, the last year for which data is available from Michigan’s House and Senate fiscal agencies.

    That $1.8 billion figure represents just one year’s worth of loans for current students, according to the state fiscal agencies. Extrapolating from national figures, if you add in loans taken out during the rest of the college careers of current students, plus outstanding debt from those who have graduated such as Eagling and Kessel, Michigan’s student loan total likely tops $30 billion — the equivalent of more than 20 years’ worth of state appropriations for higher education.

    Many of those loans saddled students with interest rates much higher than current mortgage rates, making their burden even heavier in years to come.

    The average graduate with a bachelor’s degree left campus in 2010 with $25,675 in student loans, according to the Project on Student Debt. That’s the 11th highest student debt load in the country.

  7. John Galt
    Posted March 8, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    I prefer Romney’s Pay For Your Own Damn College plan.


  8. olive
    Posted September 26, 2014 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    Was this just a stunt by Democrats or did they actually think that this might happen?

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