Standing with the University

It is essential that the state of Minnesota reinvests in the University.

Recently, Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed the higher-education omnibus bill. The budget package delivers a much-needed $2.8 billion to the University for the upcoming biennium. However, while it is true that the University received most of its Capitol bonding request this session, it is still not enough to recover the $185 million in real money that was cut in the 2003 budget, resulting in further tuition increases in coming years.

Underfunding the University to such an extent is unacceptable. The University is the economic engine that drives state growth. In a time of economic recession, robbing students of the ability to afford higher education is counterproductive to economic recovery and innovation, both of which dramatically increase the quality of life in the state. Further, as University administration “streamlines” departments and colleges to create more “synergies,” lower financial aid support, which is largely supported by federal and state aid, coupled with rising tuition, prevents the students who need it most from receiving a quality education.

The University is once again facing a tuition increase, albeit a single digit one rather than the double digit increases it has grown accustomed to. Students literally cannot afford to remain complicit while tuition rates continue to skyrocket. Students need to write, e-mail and visit the governor and their legislators.

Minnesota is the epitome of a high-taxing, high-spending state; however, its economy remains stronger than those states that have the lowest taxes in the nation. The only reason attributable to this is that our residents are highly educated and, thus, lure good jobs to the state. Minnesota simply cannot remain a strong state by being mediocre. The state needs to show students it is willing to invest in them. Minnesota needs to make students want to stay here once they come here.

There is no reason why the sons and daughters of Minnesota should not be able to afford an education at this great institution. Rather than being beholden to a “no new tax” pledge, the governor should stand with the students of the University and the working residents, of the state.