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Governor Granholm Signs Promise Zones Legislation

January 13, 2009

Legislation helps more Michigan communities create  promise of tuition-free college education for their kids

LANSING - Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today signed legislation that will allow local communities to establish "Promise Zones," which will greatly expand the opportunity for students to attend college.  The legislation was proposed by the governor in her 2007 State of the State address and is part of an overall economic plan to grow Michigan's economy and create jobs.

"At the heart of our plan to grow our economy and create jobs is a commitment to ensure that every Michigan citizen has access to affordable, first-class educational opportunities beyond high school," Granholm said.  "Whether the 21st century jobs are in alternative energy, life sciences, or advanced manufacturing, we know they are going to demand high levels of education and training.  That is why we must make certain that all our students get an education that prepares them for success in the workplace."

The two bills signed today allow for the creation of up to 10 promise zone authorities that will be able to capture one-half the growth in the state education tax to support a local effort to promise a college education to the K-12 students who reside in the zone.  At a minimum, the education promise must include funding for an associate's degree for students who live in the zone but could be for up to a four-year degree.  Before approval of the tax capture is granted by the Treasury Department, the zone will have to show that it has the means to fund the first two years of the promise.

Promise Zones will be located in cities with high rates of poverty and are modeled after the privately initiated Kalamazoo Promise, which guarantees students who graduate from Kalamazoo Public Schools free tuition at any state university or community college in Michigan.

"I want to thank Representative Melton and Senator Van Woerkem for their leadership on this important legislation," Granholm said.  "This was truly a bipartisan collaboration which will help our kids succeed in this global economy."

In addition to the governor's Promise Zones proposal, Granholm has led a number of efforts to make college and technical training more accessible to Michigan students and workers.  The Michigan Promise scholarship provides every student with the opportunity to earn $4,000 toward a college degree or technical certification.  Rigorous high school graduation requirements and a required college admissions test are ensuring that every student is prepared to continue education beyond high school.  Also, the No Worker Left Behind program is helping thousands of Michigan citizens earn degrees and learn new skills so they can get the jobs that our new economy is creating.

HB 5375 was sponsored by Representative Tim Melton (D-Pontiac) and SB 861 was sponsored by Senator Gerald Van Woerkem (R-Muskegon).

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