Searching for an education focus

A new database alone is a poor plan to improve higher education in this country.

The University DFL (College Democrats) is ready to help forge a new course and offer Minnesota a new direction. These last several years of President George W. Bush, Gov. Tim Pawlenty and the Republican Party have had disastrous effects for this state.

Under current Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty, tuition has increased 83 percent while state support for the university has fallen to its lowest levels in history. In fact, Pawlenty’s 2003 budget cut state spending for higher education by 9 percent, including slashing funding to the University by 15 percent ($185 million). Today, college students in Minnesota are graduating with an average debt of $19,468. Pawlenty is the first governor in Minnesota history to cut funding for education. “Tuition-Hike Tim” recently came out with an empty promise for higher education funding – empty because he offered no way to pay for it – to win votes for the upcoming election. Listening to Pawlenty, he seems to think students only need access to higher education during election years. Why does Pawlenty wait until the summer before his re-election campaign to pay attention to students? Why doesn’t Pawlenty show any resolve during his previous years in office?

Why does Pawlenty treat students like his personal ATM? Here’s the truth: Tim Pawlenty does not care about young people. The Bush-Pawlenty style of leadership is one that is long on rhetoric and short on substance. Bush and Pawlenty think ignoring a problem is equal to solving it. Bush and Pawlenty win through division and deception. But the DFL in Minnesota offers an alternative; a choice for voters that makes the middle class a priority, and believes in opportunity through hard work.

Mike Hatch is the DFL candidate for governor. He served as Minnesota’s Commerce Commissioner from 1983-1989, where he was the primary regulator of banks, insurance companies, securities and real estate firms doing business in Minnesota. He streamlined the Commerce Department, resulting in a savings to taxpayers of nearly $1.5 million per year. Hatch has been the attorney general of Minnesota since 1998 and is the only statewide official in eight years to have received a majority of the vote. Hatch understands the importance of education and strong state support for students and the University of Minnesota. Hatch believes that “education is as important to Minnesota’s quality of life as anything.”

Hatch has proposed allocating $300 million from a tax loophole to ease high tuition cost at Minnesota public schools. Hatch believes in strong environmental protections and a sound energy policy that does more than give tax breaks to big oil. Hatch wants to create a state energy department to improve energy use and invest in renewable sources of energy. Hatch will reverse the disastrous effects of the Bush-Pawlenty era of the last several years on our natural environment and energy consumption. Hatch recognizes the health care problem for young people in Minnesota. The largest segment of the uninsured in Minnesota is individuals between 18 and 24. This group comprises about 30 percent (104,000) of the 350,000 Minnesotans who are uninsured. Hatch is dedicated to an efficient, effective, and most importantly, the comprehensive solution to the burgeoning health care crisis that limits business and dampens the economy. Hatch will work to extend coverage to children up to the age of 25 who are ineligible for coverage from their employer. Hatch believes in funding for embryonic stem cell research that offers hope to millions of American families. Hatch has proposed a $100 million state investment in stem cell research. Hatch is not going to play political games with life-saving research. Hatch, along with the other DFL candidates, held a forum recently to listen to college students and answer their questions. Please remember to vote DFL Nov. 7 – the future of Minnesota depends on it. Check out www.markritchie06.net for more information on your voting rights.