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Move over, Bernie: Durkan pushes for free college tuition in Seattle mayor's race

College Money
Flickr Photo/SalFalko (CC BY-NC-ND)
College Money

Last year Bernie Sanders made free college tuition the centerpiece of his presidential campaign. Now, a candidate for Seattle mayor wants to make that idea hers.  

Former U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan is calling for "free college tuition for every graduate of Seattle public high schools.”

The proposal would offer two years of tuition to attend a public community or technical college in the state, building on current efforts in Seattle community colleges that now help students.

Durkan estimates the new plan would expand those tuition programs to help to around 1,500 students per year, and would also now cover all additional fees.

"As we get ready to go back to school I want every kid to know that if they do their part we promise we'll do our part," Durkan said.  

Other cities from Oakland to Kalamazoo have similar programs in place.

The estimated price tag here in Seattle would be around $4 million (or more) the first year and $7 million after that. Durkan says the current city budget is big enough to pay for it, and points to the Families and Education Levy, the soda tax, andfundscreated by Sound Transit 3 as possible sources. Private sources of funding would also be tapped. 

Durkan's opponent - urban planner Cary Moon -  also calls for more higher education funding. But in a press release, Moon implied that Durkan's plan would "hurt the very families we're trying to help."

Moon said she would prefer to generate new revenue for higher education from a proposed capital gains tax, as well as a tax on luxury real estate.   

Year started with KUOW: 2004