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Editorial: Arguments in favor of free WV community and technical college compelling

From the Times West Virginian of Fairmont:

We all know what the word “free” often seems to mean when it comes to government programs.

Too often, free means taxpayers are going to pay for a service for someone who may or may not deserve it. Too often, it means the program is not well-managed. And too often the program becomes an expensive entitlement that never goes away.

So when the Governor’s Office and legislative leaders started promoting the idea of “free community and technical college tuition” for West Virginia students, small government supporters and fiscal conservatives understandably got a bit uneasy.

Aren’t these the kinds of ideas that come from the big-government Democratic side of the aisle?

But the arguments in favor of the program are compelling — enough to make us think this formerly zany idea may work, if done very carefully.

Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, a strong proponent of the plan, pointed out that West Virginia has among the lowest education attainment rates in the nation, and it has the nation’s lowest workforce participation rate.

“The only way to break that is through education,” the sixth-year senator told the Daily Mail Opinion page. “We have got to give (students) an avenue and a path to better their future.”

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