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home : news : regional April 17, 2015

Governor Shumlin Calls For Tuition Breaks, More Math
AP Photo by Toby TalbotGov. Peter Shumlin takes his oath of office from Vermont Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul Reiber, right, as his daughters Rebecca, left, and Olivia, second from left, watch on Thursday in Montpelier.
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AP Photo by Toby Talbot

Gov. Peter Shumlin takes his oath of office from Vermont Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul Reiber, right, as his daughters Rebecca, left, and Olivia, second from left, watch on Thursday in Montpelier.

MONTPELIER -- Gov. Peter Shumlin devoted his second inaugural address Thursday almost entirely to education, calling for stronger high school math requirements and for college tuition breaks for science, technology and math students.

"Success in the new economy depends on an educated workforce with skills beyond high school in science, computer technology, engineering and math," Shumlin told a House chamber packed with lawmakers, state officials, Vermont's congressional delegation and others.

"I ask you, 'Is Vermont prepared to meet this challenge? Are we ready to harness the opportunity so critical to our future prosperity?' The plain truth is we are not," the governor said.

As solutions, Shumlin called for strengthening education from preschool through college. His proposals included:

-- $17 million in new funding to help lower-income families with childcare, nearly double what the state spends now. "There is no bigger obstacle to Vermont parents who want to work or advance than the high cost of quality childcare," Shumlin said.

-- More money -- he didn't say how much -- for free school lunches for children from low-income households.

-- An expansion of a program that allows students to combine their senior year in high school with their first year of college. "For more than a decade, 40 students a year have done this at Vermont Tech, where they concentrate on science and technology with great success," Shumlin said. "Having only 40 kids in this program is a paltry number."

-- Tuition breaks for students at the University of Vermont and state colleges who study science, technology, engineering, math and related fields.

-- An increase in funding for the University of Vermont that would cancel out, for Vermont students, a recently announced 3 percent tuition increase for next year.

Shumlin said Vermont's economy is ready to take off once the state can provide enough technically skilled workers for the employers who want to hire them. He cited a recently announced economic development in far northern Vermont, a region known as the Northeast Kingdom, in which the owners of the Jay Peak ski resort have announced expansions there and at Burke Mountain. He also noted plans for a new biotech company and high-end window maker coming to Newport.

"Under my proposal, high schools and tech centers in the Kingdom would become an innovation zone and would be able to shift current generic course requirements to focus on those that provide the training the region needs," he said.

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