Colleges are closing and laying off staff at an alarming rate, but this idea is still getting pushed.

The Vermont Digger reports:

Free college tuition gains traction in Statehouse

Vermont perennially ranks dead-last in the country for state funding, per-student, on public higher education. The state’s financial neglect of the Vermont State Colleges is decades old, and has translated into regular layoffs, sky-high tuition and low college-going rates.

But a bill to offer Vermonters free tuition at public colleges, a nonstarter in previous years, is suddenly getting traction – and some think the tide could be turning. They point to “free college” programs popping up in other states and the platforms of presidential candidates, new revenues coming into state coffers, and a Republican governor sympathetic to higher education funding needs.

“I feel like we’re about to turn a corner, to be perfectly honest. And I think we’re about to start making the investment we need to make,” said Sen. Anthony Pollina, P/D-Washington.

Pollina has reintroduced legislation, S.38, to cover four years of tuition at the Vermont State Colleges for in-state students. But while Senate Education committee chair Phil Baruth, D/P-Chittenden, is blunt that S.38 won’t go anywhere in its current form, he thinks a scaled-down version just might.