Will the New York State Zero Cost Public College Commitment Make the Partisan Divide Between the States Worse?

Its astonishing that the new New York State budget, assuming it gets approval from the rubber stamp members of the legislatture, includes a guarantee that anyone in a family earning less than $125,000 (after phase in) will not have to pay any college tuition to go to SUNY or CUNY.  It is not a perfect plan, for example you have to stay in the state for as long as you received benefits.

But it will act as a magnet for families in terms of where they move, increasing the appeal for those who are deeply committed to education.  Moreover those already in the state will surely obtain more eeduction, and learn to think and vote like grads.

Given that education is such a high predictor of voting behavior, its hard not to think that in the long term, and particularly if similar plans are adopted by other states, that this will speed up the political “sorting” already going on.

Simply put, education oriented states are investing more in education, will attract those committed to education, will increase the numbers with education and thus change both individual and aggregated voting behavior.  Those who do not value education will not choose those states.

That process does not make state red states less red, or blue states less blue.

Conversely, a federal “no cost” guarantee, as urged by many, would perhaps tend to have the opposite effect.  At a minimum with a such a program low education commitment states would end up subsidizing high education commitment states .  At least the change would reduce the opposite current state transfer effect, in which blue states generally making much larger federal revenue contributions.