Lansing, Mich. — Earlier tonight, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer delivered her fifth State of the State address, the first of her second term and the first since the Democratic Party secured majorities in the Michigan House of Representatives and the Michigan Senate. MCAN was excited to see the governor lay out a bold vision for Michigan’s future that includes significant investments in education and a continued commitment to our shared Sixty by 30 goal. As we look forward to state budget negotiations, we hope that Gov. Whitmer will work with legislators to find innovative ways to make college more affordable for Michiganders.

Statement from MCAN Executive Director Ryan Fewins-Bliss:

“At a time when many families are concerned about rising prices and making ends meet, let alone paying for their kids to go to college, MCAN was encouraged to hear Gov. Whitmer’s plans to help relieve financial pressures and put money back in their pockets. College affordability is a barrier that we hear about from families across the state, and we join the governor in calling for continued funding of the Michigan Achievement Scholarship. This monumental, bipartisan investment in postsecondary education has the potential to make affordable college a reality for tens of thousands of students in our state, including low-income students, first-generation college-going students, and students of color.

MCAN also supports Gov. Whitmer’s proposal to expand Michigan Reconnect by lowering the age of eligibility from 25 to 21. This program offers tuition-free pathways to degrees and certificates for Michigan residents living in community college districts and drastically lowers tuition costs for those living outside of a district. On average, people who hold an associate degree will earn $400,000 more over the course of their career than those with only a high school diploma, and that number jumps to over $1 million if they go on to complete a bachelor’s degree. Lowering the age of eligibility will give thousands of adult Michiganders a chance to pursue a brighter economic future through our state’s robust network of community colleges.

We know that the road to postsecondary success begins well before high school. MCAN applauds the governor’s proposed investments in early childhood and K-12 education, including funding for free, public preschool and increased support for students who experienced learning loss through the COVID-19 pandemic. These proposals will build a strong foundation for our youngest learners and help get struggling K-12 students back on track for college and careers.

While the Democratic Party holds legislative majorities, we encourage the governor and Democratic legislators to work with their Republican colleagues across the aisle to enact bold, bipartisan investments in our state. Building a better future for all Michiganders isn’t a partisan issue. Investing in education leads to greater economic opportunities, stronger communities, and more prosperous families. Our progress toward Sixty by 30 was slowed by the pandemic, but now it’s time to step on the gas and invest in postsecondary education to build a workforce that’s ready for the opportunities and challenges of the 21st century.”