I find it incredible that there has been a mis-labeling of my proposed legislation on your website. In an effort to set the record straight regarding this matter, I submit the following statement of explaination of the resolution. The intent of this legislation is to create and establish a fund that will allow free college tuition payments for any graduating Michigan high school student who has lived in the state for five consecutive years prior to graduation and who has at least a 2.5 GPA (the average student) and who seeks to attend a Michigan public, private or vocational training college or institution of higher learning.
A careful reading of HJR BB indicates one of its more interesting qualities: it does NOT request or require any taxpayer dollars to support the tuition package. The proposed constitutional amendment does the following:
1. It creates a fund called the 'Michigan College Tuition Fund' (MCTF) that will contain all dollars collected for tuition payments. The fund has to be constitutionally created in order to achieve its purpose of protecting the fund from encroachment by the executive and legislative branches. The MCTF will be administered by the Michigan Department of Treasury working with the Michigan Department of Education. This fund will NOT interfere with any existing tuition programs.
2. It establishes a funding mechanism for the MCTF in the following four ways: First, one percent of all operating Michigan casino receipts will be dedicated to the fund; second, a minimum of three Super Lotto games would be created strictly for the MCTF all funds minus lottery expenses would be paid into the fund; third, the philothropic and corporate communities will be solicited for contributions to the fund and fourth, an income tax refund checkoff will be available for voluntary taxpayer contributions to the fund.
3. It establishes a required student payback-reachback program of one year after college graduation by the recipient of the scholarship going back to the high school of graduation, selecting a student who is underachieving, providing mentoring to that student so that he or she can academically qualify for the scholarship. Failure to participate in the reachback aspect of this program carries a penalty of total repayment to the fund of all paid tuition.
4. Enabling legislation will follow that will codify these concepts into statue law.
It is my goal to have bi-partisan support for the HJR and its accompanying enabling legislation. It is extimated that this fund will need to raise between $1.7 and 2 billion. We estimate that the MCTF would pay tuition for approximately 20,000 students who would graduate from Michigan high schools annually.
My bill differs sharply from the proposed legislation of Reps. Alma Wheeler Smith and Rebecca Warren in that their bill requires an increase in taxation in order to provide the scholarship. The major goal of my legislation is to NOT TAX Michigan residents while uplifting the level of education for the general populus of our state.
I hope that this information is helpful in distinguishing my proposal from the other bill. Additionally, I look forward to the Michigan Center's participation and comment on the specific aspects of the legislation I have presented here.
Rep. Fred Durhal, Jr. - 6th District