Board of Regents draws the line

Any further cuts should and will incite a caustic and vicious fight.

Angela Delmedico

Last Friday the Board of Regents reluctantly passed the 2004-05 budget, executing cuts and a tuition increase, noting that these solutions to shortfalls cannot continue. Though the deficits are largely a direct result of reduced state funding, Gov. Tim Pawlenty and other politicians have remained all but exempt from criticism. Complaints from students, University officials and other University supporters have been seemingly brushed aside. Given higher tuition bills this fall, the bubbling resentment of students will be more apparent.

So far Gov. Pawlenty has placated the public by talking of “shared sacrifice” and maintaining an inflexible devotion to the “no-tax” pledge. But, the sacrifices have not really been shared. Balancing the state budget has consisted of accounting gimmicks and forcing costs down to the local level. The University in particular has served as a turkey of sorts to Pawlenty’s cutting. Meanwhile the University and Minnesotans have not beenhave not been as vocal as they could have been.

Perhaps Minnesotans don’t realize the damage being done to one of the finest academic institutions in the nation. Extension services have been cut, the ESL center has been closed, and $155.5 million requested for building and renovation projects is in limbo. Shared sacrifice also means University students will swallow a fourth consecutive double- digit tuition increase. Sadly, Minnesotans may not grasp the damage being done until it is painfully apparent.

Over the last week the University has drawn the line. Pawlenty and his higher education assassins have their toes on it. Any further cuts and will incite a caustic and vicious fight. When University officials, who are not usually given to boldness, stridently stand against future cuts, students, alumni and Minnesotans should and likely will join the fray.

If the Legislature and governor’s office want confrontation, it is one demand the University community should acquiesce to.