Ben Jealous (D), a candidate for governor of Maryland, called for free community college at a Monday rally with Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by the League of Conservation Voters — EPA finalizing rule cutting HFCs Manchin fires warning shot on plan to expand Medicare Democrats steamroll toward showdown on House floor MORE (I-Vt.)
Jealous released a plan on Monday that would eventually make public colleges and universities free for Maryland students, The Baltimore Sun reported.
The program would be paid for by hiking taxes on wealthy residents and on cigarettes.
“In Maryland, we don’t have to crawl forward. We can leap forward,” Jealous told the crowd.
Sanders has championed free community college in the past and praised the initiative during the Monday rally.
“It is a little bit crazy to be spending more money locking kids up than sending them to the University of Maryland,” Sanders said.
The plan also calls for free college tuition for “in-demand professions” such as nursing, public school teaching and construction engineering, as well as a “debt-free path to graduation” for state-paid work study programs.
Sanders has endorsed Jealous, a former NAACP president, in a crowded Democratic primary field for governor. Jealous also stumped for Sanders during his 2016 presidential campaign primary.
Jealous is one of seven Democratic primary candidates hoping to run against incumbent Gov. Larry Hogan (R).
The release of Jealous’s proposal coincides with Hogan's plan to sign a bill on Tuesday that will offer free community college to thousands of Maryland students, the Sun reported.
The state’s General Assembly passed legislation last month allows the state to spend $15 million a year on scholarships for low- and middle-income students.
The scholarships, worth up to $5,000, will help students get started with their community college education.