Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer announced a new coronavirus plan based on the GI Bill to give front-line workers free college tuition, billing it as the first program of its kind in the country.
Those eligible under the “Future for Frontliners” plan would be workers including “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,” the state revealed in an announcement.
Whitmer said the state would use federal grant money to fund the program. It is unclear how many people would be eligible to apply or how much the state estimated it would cost.
“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 said in a statement. “This program will ensure tuition-free college opportunities and give these dedicated Michiganders an opportunity to earn a technical certificate, associate degree or even a bachelor’s degree.”
As of Thursday, Michigan has over 40,000 coronavirus cases and 3,670 deaths. Whitmer has used references to World War II in public statements about coronavirus before, including comparing those protesting her state’s social distancing restrictions to those Americans who protested the World War II production effort in the 1940s.
“President Trump called this a war, and it is exactly that. So let’s act like it. In World War II, there weren’t people lining up at the Capitol to protest the fact that they had to drop everything they were doing and build planes or tanks or to ration food,” Whitmer said during an address earlier this month.
The Michigan Democrat also drew scrutiny after her administration hired a data company known for working with Democratic campaigns to track state residents’ contact information to assist the state’s effort of tracing coronavirus cases.