PHOENIX - As the student debt debate continues to play out around the country, a new, student-led ballot initiative in Arizona aims to make college tuition cheaper by having the State Legislature foot half the bill.
"We're not asking for anything for free," said Shayna Stevens with the Arizona Students Association. "We're asking the state Legislature and elected officials to honor the state's constitution."
Stevens says the name for the act - As Nearly Free As Possible Act -- is a line straight from the Arizona State Constitution, which dictates that state universities should be as cheap as they can be.
If the initiative makes it on the ballot and then passed by voters, the State Legislature would pay 50% of tuition and fees, or there would be a 2% surcharge on corporations that went to higher education budgets. The effort aims to get more than 280,000 signatures by June.
"Corporations have seen some of the biggest tax breaks since 2008, and they stand to benefit the most from an educated workforce," said Stevens.
For students, some would love a little extra help with tuition, but they are willing to work for it as well.
"I think the government should foot the bill, at least for a partial portion of this. Reason being I don’t think a lot of money goes into education," said one student.
"I definitely think it's a little high, and there could be more scholarships that could go towards that, but it's also about managing your time," said another student. "I work two jobs, and I make it work, but I still think it's too high."
The Arizona Chamber of Commerce did not take an official position, but they typically have been against proposals that raise corporate tax rates.
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