Michigan Senate Approves New Scholarships, Increases College Funding | Michigan News

By DAVID EGGERT, Associated Press

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Senate on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a spending bill that would fund a new college scholarship program for high school graduates and increase funding for college operations by 11 percent. State.

The legislation, one of 14 budget bills to clean up the chamber, passed 31-4 with broad bipartisan support and will be further negotiated in talks with Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the House, which is expected to move forward its own budget plan from Wednesday. It would be the biggest increase and budget for higher education in decades, at a time when the state has excess tax revenue.

Republicans who control the Senate have also earmarked $2 billion for tax cuts in hopes a deal can be struck between GOP lawmakers and the Democratic governor, who are at odds over the size and scope of extent of tax cuts. Senators split along party lines on numerous other spending bills on Tuesday and will pass a K-12 measure on Wednesday.

The Senate overwhelmingly agreed to offer to award “success” scholarships to 2022 high school graduates, with the goal of continuing the new program in years to come. Students attending four-year colleges in the state could get up to $6,000 a year, while those at community colleges in the state could qualify for up to $3,000 a year. More than three quarters of this year’s promotion would be eligible.

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The assistance would cover tuition or mandatory fees that are not already covered by federal need-based Pell grants or Michigan’s tuition program for Medicaid recipients. The state previously launched tuition-free community college aid for adults 25 and older and pandemic frontline workers.

“As our young people put in the work and demonstrate that they are capable of succeeding, we need to ensure that they have the freedom to pursue a post-secondary degree that matches their career path,” said Senator Kim LaSata, a Republican of Niles who presides over the Senate. higher education budget sub-committee.

The Democratic governor had proposed a 10% increase in operating funds for 15 universities.

The Senate bill includes an 11% increase as well as $361 million for scholarships and $562 million from the academic aid fund to pay off pension obligations for seven universities that are part of the employee retirement system. Michigan public.

Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr. of East Lansing, the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, said the investments “are incredibly important. For 30 years, Republicans and Democrats have failed our students.

The current budget of $1.8 billion for higher education is lower than it was 20 years ago and has been gradually reduced to less than $1.4 billion 10 years ago. It would jump nearly $1 billion in the next fiscal year.

Democrats tried unsuccessfully to change various spending bills to align with Whitmer’s proposal. They have sought, for example, to use $500 million in federal rescue aid to give a “hero’s bounty” to pandemic essential workers.

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