Meet budget request

The biennial budget request approved by the Board of Regents last week may include one of the smallest increases the University of Minnesota has asked for in a decade, but they still come at a bad time. With state legislators predicting a $2 billion deficit for the state, this is a bad time to be asking for any kind of increase. But University president Bob Bruininks disagrees with the conventional wisdom on this point: Recession is the time to invest in human capital. Bruininks told The Minnesota DailyâÄôs editorial board he thinks the University is âÄúthe most important single institution (in Minnesota) when it comes to our position in the global economy.âÄù He estimates that for every dollar the state invests in the University, the state will see a $3 to $5 return. But Bruininks faces a hard road ahead in the Legislature. Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia, told the Daily Monday, âÄúEverybody has a Christmas list, but that doesnâÄôt mean they get everything they wish for.âÄù Students across campus continually voice their concern about whether their degree is worth the price theyâÄôre paying. WhatâÄôs on studentâÄôs Christmas lists this year? How about $25,000 âÄî the average amount of University student debt when they graduate and the highest average debt load in the Big Ten. Despite the state deficit, the Legislature should meet BruininksâÄô request in full, and make a commitment to the students, and future, of our state. Cutting the budget request and raising tuition for students only means trouble down the line, when our graduates are more worried about paying of their student loans than leading the stateâÄôs government, economy and workforce. The Regents should invest in the University to not only uphold jobs but to also help quell the debt-load of the very human capitol entering those jobs. Often making life investments in houses, cars and eventually families, college graduates drive the economy just as the institution they graduate from does. But that canâÄôt hold true if they are mired in debt.