House Dems Demand Hearing on Michigan 2020 Plan

House Plan would help with college costs to produce high-skilled workers
Thursday, May 10, 2012

LANSING - State Reps. Brandon Dillon (D-Grand Rapids), Joan Bauer (D-Lansing), Marcia Hovey-Wright (D-Muskegon) and Steve Lindberg (D-Marquette), sent a formal request today to the State Rep. Jim Stamas (R-Midland), Chairman of the House Committee on Government Operations, asking that their bills to create the Michigan 2020 Plan be given a committee hearing. 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.

“Recent hearings in the Michigan Senate regarding these proposals have drawn attention to the fact that a college education is becoming financially unattainable for many Michigan families,” said Dillon, the sponsor of House Bill 5467 in the Michigan 2020 Plan package. “My colleagues and I who are the sponsors of this package in the House are confident that similar open and public discourse in the House is critical, given the rapidly growing cost of higher education in Michigan.”

Under the Michigan 2020 Plan - outlined in House Bills 5467, 5470, 5471, and House Joint Resolution SS - 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.

“Higher Education is important for our students and the economic well-being of Michigan so we need to start this discussion on how to make college affordable for all of our students,” said Representative Bauer, sponsor of House Joint Resolution SS.

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 percent of those tax credits would more than fund the Michigan 2020 Plan.

“The Michigan 2020 Plan could help us attract new jobs and businesses because it will clearly state that we are serious about educating our students for the workforce,” said Rep. Hovey-Wright, sponsor of House Bill 5471. “We need to start the discussion on this plan now.”?

“A committee hearing will let us hear just how difficult college costs are for so many families, and how the Michigan 2020 Plan is one solution that will help these families and their students,” said Rep. Lindberg, sponsor of House Bill 5470.

The bills would establish the Michigan 2020 grant program and require that all tax credits sunset every four years, direct 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.