Members of the Minnesota Young DFL and some DFL legislators came together Tuesday to make a very strong statement to Governor Pawlenty: Don't balance the budget on the backs of students.
They spoke out against Pawlenty's proposed cuts in higher education, which includes $27 million from the University of Minnesota, and $26 million from Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU).
"It's Economics 101. If we continue to cut funding for colleges and universities, and tuition keeps going up as a result, fewer and fewer people will get the higher education they need to compete in the economy, which means that less and less money will come in to fund higher education", said Sean Olson, a senior at the University of Minnesota and member of the MYDFL.
A new study by the state of Minnesota shows public university and college students pay twice the national average for tuition and fees. U of M President Robert Bruininks said last week if the proposed cuts go into effect, it could lead to even higher tuition increases than the five percent hike currently planned.
Ray Hoover, a student at St. Cloud State University and chair of the Minnesota Young DFL, said his group is calling on the governor to hold the state's public colleges and universities harmless when he tries to close the nearly billion-dollar budget deficit.
"The cost of college has gone up dramatically over the last few years, in no small part because of the significant cuts to higher education in this state since Pawlenty became governor", said Hoover.
A recent study by the Minnesota Private College Research Foundation found that the percentage of Minnesotans who earn a four-year degree is expected to fall 11 percent, while the number of jobs requiring some college education will grow 21 percent.
"The cost of tuition is pricing us out of college," said Olson.
By Jenna Healy, KARE 11 Capitol Assistant
(Copyright 2008 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)