More for a few, and less for you!

Those Republicans are at it again, and we’re still trying to understand the Republican message. We have to look at what Republicans say are their priorities and how that matches with their policies, it’s frightening, an exercise in disbelief, but how else do we hold them accountable?

Isn’t it enough, way too much, that they want us to always do “More with Less?” No, they aren’t stopping at taxing regular workers at a higher percentage than the wealthiest Minnesotans, they aren’t stopping at trying to cut state workers’ wages, or cutting Minnesota Care or daycare funding, nope, that’s not all, not by a long shot. The Republicans also want to reduce access to public higher education, those institutions that allow middle and low income folks to climb the income ladder. The state college and universities are affordable and are flexible enough so that adults going back to school who have adult responsibilities can make it. We saw the difference higher education makes after World War II when so many veterans went to college on the GI bill. This was the start of an important class shift in our society. Access to higher education is the type of social investment that provides vast benefits.

Now, the Republicans want to reduce costs by closing some state campuses as reported in the Star Tribune, and they also have a plan to shift public money to private higher education institutions. How many of the Republicans clamoring for restricted access to higher education have themselves received those benefits, such as Gov. Pawlenty? Our Governor went to the University of Minnesota law school, where tuition is less than half of what it is at the other law schools in Minnesota. How many others received federal student loans or outright grants? Their cry to cut higher education funding is a variation of that “pull up the ladder” mentality, that “I’ve got mine, now let’s not give anything to anyone else” selfish mantra.

University of Minnesota President Bruininks has it right when he says:

As we embark on the next 150 years, this is a time for renewal of our covenant with the people of Minnesota. In a global economy whose currency is knowledge, this is not a time to pause or retreat from the state’s historic commitment to education. Our success and our quality of life in this new century will depend upon continued investment and public support of education and the University of Minnesota.

Bruininks inaugural address is available online.

Former Governor and University Regent Elmer L. Andersen once said:

It is difficult to think that an investment in our youth and our future could be better placed than in our university. And we-the people of this university, its thousands of alumni, and its friends will continue to make that case.

Check out one of the legislature’s higher education bills:

My fiscally conservative parents always told me you can’t get more with less. There’s always a price to pay. You get out what you put in. When a community invests in higher education, we all benefit,and some of us, like Gov. Pawlenty, benefit directly. But throughout the history of higher education, all the way from establishment of the Land Grant Universities to the founding of my alma mater St. Olaf, investments in community were made because of the deeply held belief that we all benefit from the education of our citizens. To quote President Bruininks again:

This is an institution that has endured and thrived, and one that has benefited from the state’s largesse at the same time that it has underpinned its economic progress and quality of life. Let us continue to advance knowledge. Let us continue to partner for the public good.

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