Bumstead legislation to provide flexibility for the Muskegon and Newaygo Promise Zones approved by Senate committee

LANSING, Mich. — The Senate Committee on Appropriations Wednesday afternoon took testimony on legislation sponsored by state Sen. Jon Bumstead that would provide flexibility and access to student scholarships on Michigan’s “Promise Zones.”

“I have long been an advocate of allowing local communities to do what’s best for their residents and I think Promise Zone Authorities should be able to make some changes that will better serve the needs of students in these zones,” said Bumstead, R-Newaygo. “Tying the hands of Promise Zones across the state with government mandates does not allow them to make choices that are best for students.”

The Michigan Promise Zone Authority Act provides scholarships to students that live and graduate from a high school located within the boundaries of a Promise Zone. The scholarships allow for students to pursue higher education without having to worry about the financial burden.

Promise Zones have three funding sources: the federal Pell grant or other need-based aid, private contributions and revenues from the state tax capture mechanism. Michigan statute currently allows for 15 communities to have Promise Zones.

Currently, the Michigan Promise Zone Authority Act covers cost of “qualified educational expenses” for students. Under the current definition, qualified educational expenses cover costs on top of tuition for expenses of books, supplies and equipment required for courses.

Senate Bill 1052 would modify what is considered a “qualified educational expense” and would make the cost of books, supplies and other equipment optional expenses that a Promise Zone Authority can cover if they choose to.

“The current policy takes away dollars that could be going toward giving more Muskegon and Newaygo County students tuition scholarships,” said Bumstead. “This legislation will allow each Promise Zone Authority the choice to include additional costs on top of tuition and better meet the specific needs of students in their respective communities.”

The legislation will now go before the full Senate for consideration.

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Editor’s note: A print-quality version of Bumstead joining Muskegon Area Intermediate School District Superintendent John Severson before the committee is available by clicking on the image or by visiting the senator’s website at www.SenatorJonBumstead.com. Click on “Photos” under the “In the News” tab.

Photo caption: Sen. Jon Bumstead, R-Newaygo, joins Muskegon Area Intermediate School District Superintendent John Severson before the Senate Committee on Appropriations as Severson testifies in support of Bumstead’s legislation, Senate Bill 1052.