Campaigning in Keene

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., campaigns at Keene High School in May.

Building on his rural economy proposal from the summer, Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg is homing in on workforce development with a new plan he released this week.

The South Bend, Ind., mayor is looking to reduce student debt and boost non-college professional training programs nationwide, with his campaign pointing out particular benefits to young people in New Hampshire.

At Keene State College, more than 70 percent of students received federal loans to help cover tuition last year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Buttigieg’s plan would offer free public college tuition to any family earning under $100,000 per year, with those earning between $100,000 and $150,000 getting reduced public tuition on a sliding scale.

The average in-state tuition at New Hampshire public institutions is $16,070 annually, consistently one of the highest in the country in recent years. The first public tuition freeze since 2013 will come during the 2020-21 school year.

The Granite State also has a higher proportion of college seniors graduating with debt than any other state in the country, according to last year’s data from the Project on Student Debt.

Under the Buttigieg proposal, 83 percent of New Hampshire families would qualify for free or reduced in-state tuition with federal assistance, were the package to make it through Congress as written, according to the plan.

A $50 billion federal investment in workforce development programs is also part of the proposal, in addition to $10 billion for apprenticeships, through grant incentives for states to integrate apprenticeships and training systems into their K-12 school systems.

To better serve the nearly two-thirds of Americans over 25 who do not have a college degree, Buttigieg says he would create a “Skills Cabinet” in the White House to bring together experts from across sectors to develop a five-year strategy to boost the American workforce.

Another $100 million in grants is bookmarked for investing in existing local public-private partnerships.

Employers offering paid work experience through internships and apprenticeships would also be eligible for federal tax deductions.

In addition to the loan elimination for lower income families, the Buttigieg plan would fully cancel student debt for students who dedicate 10 years of their career to public service.

Funding mechanisms for the plan include reversing the 2017 corporate and income tax cuts, eliminating tax exemptions on carried interest and establishing a 0.1 percent financial transactions tax.

Jake Lahut can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1435, or jlahut@keenesentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter @JakeLahut.