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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Oregon Lawmakers Consider Plan To Offer Free Community College Tuition

M.O. Stevens
File photo of Tillamook Bay Community College in Tillamook, Ore.

Oregon lawmakers are considering what some may call an audacious plan: free community college for all of its state’s high school graduates.

A Senate committee Tuesday advanced a bill that would require the state to study the viability of the plan.

Democratic Governor John Kitzhaber testified in favor of the proposal. He says the increasing cost of college is putting higher education out of reach of many young adults.

"I think we need to take very bold steps in the next two to four years to make an affordable college education within reach of every Oregon high school graduate."

At least one other state, Tennessee, is looking at a similar plan.

In Oregon, the current measure would only study the proposal. How much it could cost at this point is anybody’s guess. Supporters say that it could be as much as upwards of $50 million to $100 million per year when it's fully rolled out.

The measure now heads to a vote on the Senate floor.