Konop hatches plan for free college tuition

Reported by Rob Wiercinski email
Posted by Kate Oatis email

LUCAS COUNTY (WTOL) - College tuition is one big, fat burden for most Americans who graduate from college.

And that worries Lucas County Commissioner Ben Konop, who says providing free college tuition for people in Lucas County without raising taxes is possible.

That's good news to many, including William Parker, a machinist, who's been laid off since July. He's one of thousands looking for a job at The Source, but he'd like to pursue a college degree.

"The idea of getting additional education is great. I do want to seek my engineering degree; I just don't have the funds to do that," Parker said.

Konop wants to help people like Parker by creating a new college scholarship fund for high school grads and displaced workers in Lucas County.

"Unfortunately, the cost of higher education continues to rise while wages continue to fall and it's making it almost impossible for working people to pay for school," Konop said.

He estimates the county could save around $4 million per year by having county departments go to a four-day work week, adopting energy efficient measures and privatizing EMS life squad operators.

"You take that money, savings per year, and then issue a bond based on that savings and that would bring in about $70 million for a college scholarship program," Konop said.

The program would also boost efforts to prevent more people from moving out of Lucas County, Konop explained, adding, "That'll grow our economy truly and substantially for generations to come, so I think it's a worthwhile investment.

It's now up to Konop to convince at least one other commissioner the plan is worthy of support.