Michigan Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer has signed a plan to provide evidently free access to the state’s system of higher education for spouses and dependents of members of the Michigan National Guard. Service members themselves were already able to access such benefits, and the plan Whitmer signed also expands the overall cap on funding for the program, moving it to $15 million from $10 million.
“Since the program’s inception, over 6,000 guard members have benefited from MINGSTAP and now thousands of eligible spouses and dependents will have the same opportunity to earn a tuition-free degree or professional certificate,” U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Paul D. Rogers said. Rogers is the director of Michigan’s Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. A press release from the governor’s office identified institutions where National Guard families could use the state assistance as “any public or private college, university, vocational school, technical school, or trade school located in Michigan.”
As with so much else that’s come out of Midwestern states like Michigan and Minnesota, these wins were facilitated by Democratic victories in last year’s midterm elections, during which Democrats secured control of both the state legislature and governorship in both of the aforementioned states, in addition to others nationwide.
Relatedly, Minnesota Democratic Governor Tim Walz was recently preparing to sign into law the establishment of a state program there for universal paid family and medical leave, expanding such assistance opportunities to a group evidently including nearly a million workers who haven’t had access to such benefits before, though the program won’t be implemented right away. The framework will provide 12 weeks of each form of paid leave, with a cap of 20 total weeks per worker each year. Funding will come both from a state budget surplus and very small additional taxes, totaling just a few dollars a week for workers.