PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Democratic U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz — running to replace Republican Gov. Tom Corbett — says students who get a two-year Associates Degree at community colleges should get free tuition for the remaining two years to get a Bachelor’s degree at one of Pennsylvania’s 14 state universities like California University, Indiana University, Slippery Rock or Clarion.

“Sometimes it’s just a couple thousand dollars more that can make the difference between the decision — I can make it, I can do this — and what we’re going to say to those students is — you want to go on, we’re going to help you with those final dollars,” Schwartz told KDKA political editor Jon Delano on Monday.

Under Schwartz’s plan, students — after two years of community college — who’d prefer to go to Pitt, Penn State or some private college in the state could also get the equivalent in tuition to offset the cost at those institutions.

“We should be looking to ways to invest in education to make sure that we are economically competitive and that our young people can thrive and stay here,” she said.

Schwartz says it’s a matter of priorities and Corbett’s are wrong on education.

“Tom Corbett proposed, recommended a 50 percent cut to higher education. The state senate, the state legislature held him to 20 percent,” she added.

She’d reverse that, saying in exchange for more state dollars, she’d insist on a two-year tuition freeze at state universities.

And to pay for all this, the Philadelphia Democrat wants a 5 percent severance tax on Marcellus shale gas.

“This is a very real common sense deal,” she said. “It’s really what I think the energy companies expected to pay. We should not be giving this treasure away to the energy companies. We should be using those dollars to invest in economic growth in the entire state.”

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