John Kline’s top priority

Rep. John Kline is in a prime spot to provide for higher education funds.

Daily Editorial Board

U.S. Rep. John Kline was one of the big winners among Minnesota politicians last week. The Republican, representing the southern metro, won 63 percent of the vote and will almost certainly chair the House Education and Labor Committee when Congress convenes.

On Wednesday, Kline released a statement titled, “Congress must make job creation our No. 1 priority.” If Kline is as serious about creating jobs as he says, he must make public education a priority and defend it when it comes time to cut spending.

This session, Congress approved a $2,500 annual tax credit for college students as part of the stimulus bill. President Barack Obama wants that tax credit made permanent. Congress invested $60 billion in college affordability as a provision of the health care reform legislation, including $36 billion to increase the maximum Pell Grant allowance, which will send an estimated $443 million to Minnesota over 10 years. Forty-four million of that money will go to KlineâÄôs 2nd Congressional District. That translates directly into more opportunities for students to go to college, and, in turn, more jobs.

Kline has already acknowledged that the chairmanship puts him in a prime spot to undo the health care reform law. Hence, we wonâÄôt be surprised when his committee takes on a different tone and agenda than under his predecessor, Rep. George Miller, D-Calif.

But Kline should remember the enormous responsibility he has to AmericaâÄôs education system. When Republicans come to him to ask about spending cuts, Kline should protect and provide for higher education. His objective is to increase jobs âÄî and thereâÄôs no better way to do so than invest heavily in public education.