The Michigan Legislature is looking to create five new “Promise Zones.” Those are special cities and communities that provide free college tuition for high school graduates.
The bill was originally intended to make Flint a Promise Zone, but a committee decided to bring the state’s total of Promise Zones up from 10 to 15.
Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich is from Flint, which will likely apply for Promise Zone status. He said this would give the people of his city hope and a reason to stay after the water crisis.
“That if you stick around and you did nothing wrong before, you were harmed by your government, if you stick around that there’s gonna be some payback at the end of the day,” he said. “And I think that’s a real positive.”
For the first two years, the community has to provide the money for tuition privately. After that, the zones get half of the growth in their community’s state education property taxes.
Ananich said it’s a small amount of money in the state budget. But it gives communities, a big boost.
“We’ve seen in other communities it’s increased high school graduation, it’s increased completion of colleges, it’s increased property values, it’s increased people moving into the community,” he said. “And if we can have any of those happen in our community that’ll be a positive.”
The legislation is on its way to the governor’s desk for a signature. Ananich said he’s confident the governor will sign.
You can learn more about SB 98 here.