As per usual, the State of the State is more high-level vision than nuts-and-bolts game plan. But the speech does feature some specific proposals. Among them:
-Increase state appropriations to state colleges and the University of Vermont by 3 percent next year and use the excess funds solely for financial aid and scholarships for Vermonters. Shumlin says the budget increase will be enough to hold all Vermont students harmless from any tuition hikes next year.
-Vermont Strong Scholars Program: a “simple” program wherein students who graduate from a Vermont college or university with a degree in science, technology, engineering or mathematics field, get their last year of tuition paid for by the state. The money would be paid out over five years. People who graduate with an associates degree in a “STEM” field get their last semester of tuition paid for over three years.
-Personal Learning Plans that “travel with each student from elementary through their senior year.” The plans would tie educational goals to career opportunities, “making school more relevant.”
-Shumlin has reiterated his call to make algebra mandatory for 9th graders and geometry mandatory for 10th graders
-Take $17 million from the state’s earned income tax credit and use it to subsidize childcare for lower-income parents. He said his administration will also “initiate publicly funded preschool programs where they do not now exist.”
-Shumlin also wants the state to make free lunch available to all low-income students, even those who currently are only eligible for reduced prices.