Blumenthal, Murphy co-sponsor bill to provide free college tuition by taxing Wall St. speculation

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy are backing a bill to pay for make public colleges and universities tuition-free for working families and to significantly reduce student debt.

The legislation, proposed by Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Pramila Jayapal, would eliminate tuition for families making up to $125,000/year. Students attending public colleges and universities would be eligible for the free tuition. About 80 percent of the population would qualify for the plan if enacted. It would also make community college tuition and fee-free for all students. The plan is similar to other countries including Germany, Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, where public institutions of higher education are tuition-free.

The bill also would cut the interest rates for new loans and enable existing borrowers to refinance at the new lower rate.

The Senators said the $600 billion cost would be paid for by a separate bill to tax Wall Street speculation. That tax is proposed to be 0.5 percent on stock trades, a 0.1 percent fee on bonds and a 0.005 percent fee on derivatives, they said the tax would raise at least $600 billion over the next decade.

“At a time when college remains out of reach for far too many, this legislation would make college tuition-free for working families, reduce student debt and breathe new life into the American Dream. I am proud to stand with Senators Sanders and Warren as we work to combat our country’s college affordability crisis,” Blumenthal said.

Blumenthal, Murphy and Sanders introduced the bill in the Senate along with U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). In the House, Reps. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Rick Nolan (D-Minn.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.), John Conyers (D-Mich.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), David Cicilline (D-R.I.) and Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) joined Jayapal as co-sponsors of the legislation.