Michigan's Whitmer proposes GI bill-style free college for coronavirus essential workers

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Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer proposed a G.I. bill program Wednesday that would offer free college to essential workers who held jobs "on the front lines" during the coronavirus crisis.

Under the "Futures for Frontliners” program, workers deemed essential who do not have a college degree would be provided a tuition-free pathway through college or trade school.

“This includes workers like the ones staffing our hospitals and nursing homes, stocking the shelves at grocery stores, providing child care to critical infrastructure workers, manufacturing PPE, protecting public safety, picking up trash, or delivering supplies,” Whitmer said in a statement.

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“The Futures for Frontliners program is our way of saying ‘thank you’ to those who have risked their lives on the front lines of this crisis,” Whitmer continued. “I want to assure all of our workers we will never forget those of you who stepped up and sacrificed their own health during this crisis. You’re the reason we’re going to get through this.”

MICHIGAN'S WHITMER DEFENDS STATE'S LOCKDOWN ORDERS; CALLS THEM 'AGGRESSIVE' BUT NECESSARY

Whitmer said the program is the first of its kind in the country and “was inspired by the federal government’s support of soldiers returning from World War II.” She added that it would help her reach her goal to increase the number of working-age adults with a technical certificate or college degree from 45 percent to 60 percent by 2030.

Whitmer also called for support for Michigan Democratic Sen. Gary Peters' Heroes Fund, a proposal that would provide hazard pay for Michigan’s more than 3 million essential workers. The proposal would provide those workers with an additional $13 per hour, up to $25,000, with a “potential recruitment incentive” for medical workers of up to $15,000.

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The freshman Democratic governor has come under fire by some residents for her extreme lockdown measures, which explicitly ban traveling between residences or seeing friends or family and shut down certain areas within stores deemed essential. Whitmer, who has been mentioned as a possible vice presidential pick for Democrat Joe Biden, called her measures “aggressive” but necessary.