Lawmaker to call for tax hike to fund free tuition

LANSING, MI – A Democratic lawmaker and candidate for governor will turn in legislation this week that would guarantee free tuition for in-state students attending public universities and community colleges. Smith says her plan would be an improvement on the Michigan Promise scholarship.

The Michigan Promise is a $4000 scholarship. That covers roughly the cost of two years at a community college.

State Representative Alma Wheeler Smith says Michigan would reap economic rewards by becoming the first state to guarantee that tuition and fees would be covered at four-year institutions. Smith would offer families loans or a dollar-for-dollar tax credit to cover the costs of tuition and fees.

"So this program is designed to make access affordable for all of our Michigan high school graduates who attend a public institution," Smith says.

Smith would pay for the program by increasing the state income tax. She acknowledges that will be a tough sell to her fellow lawmakers, especially during a recession.