The King stands alone

With Republicans cutting the higher education budget, only one is brave.

Daily Editorial Board

House Republicans on the higher education finance committee passed a $306.3 million cut to the stateâÄôs higher education systems Tuesday. ItâÄôs the largest cut of its kind in state history. There was only one dissenting voice from the majority party âÄî freshman Rep. King Banaian, R-St. Cloud.

Banaian, an economics professor at St. Cloud State University, said he couldnâÄôt in good conscious vote against higher education funding and face his students when he returns to the classroom, according to MinnPost. When he cast his vote, following hours of testimony against the bill, he kept his students in mind.

It is refreshing to hear someone from the majority voting with the students. The Republican proposal would cut the University of MinnesotaâÄôs state appropriation to 1998 levels. It would see state spending on higher education fall to a meager 8 percent of the budget. It would hurt schoolsâÄô abilities to teach and make it harder for students to attend college.

Republicans hammer away at their “no new taxes” mantra with the hopes of convincing someone that $5 billion in state spending cuts will lead to more jobs. But this higher education proposal will lead to wage and hiring freezes at best and job cuts at worst. ThatâÄôs on top of the effect this cut will have on the quality of education passed on to students, who are looking at years of cuts to services, larger classes and tuition increases, despite a proposed cap to tuition built into this bill. Those measures wonâÄôt help grow jobs âÄî they will kill them.

So we salute Banaian, the rare Republican who openly counts students as his constituents and is working to shield them from these reckless cuts. We hope he continues to stand up for higher education as this session wears on.