Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Plan would raise sales tax to pay for college tuition

By: Corey Mutterperl

Lansing --College tuition would be guaranteed for anyone in Michigan, under a plan unveiled by two lawmakers on Tuesday, but consumers would see a 1.15 percent hike in the state sales tax to make it happen.State Reps. Alma Wheeler Smith, D-Salem Township, and Rebekah Warren, D-Ann Arbor, said their plan would create the workforce Michigan needs to draw new industries and jobs.But a spokesman for the state's Senate majority leader said that despite the state's highest-in-the-nation jobless rate of 12 percent, "we're not interested in a tax increase for Michigan citizens."

 The tuition plan, which also would fund universal pre-school for all 4-year-olds, is based on the popular "Kalamazoo Promise" which guarantees college tuition for students who attend 12 years in that city's school district.

"Anybody that graduates in Michigan who doesn't have a (bachelor's degree) could access a community college or university," she said, adding the program would provide relief to thousands of people displaced by the loss of manufacturing jobs.

But Matt Marsden, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, said lawmakers should instead focus on how best to spend federal stimulus money earmarked for education in Michigan. As much as $1 billion in recovery money could be available.

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