Two years ago, I was one of many students who rallied and lobbied legislators for a Tuition Freeze. I got Representative Dean Urdahl to sign on as a co-sponsor in the House and then Senator Dave Kleis from St Cloud to sponsor the bill in the Senate. We did meet with many local legislators, including Senator Dille, Rep Bruce Anderson, Representative Emmer, Representative Olson and many others. Urdahl and Kleis were the only leaders who tried to help us out.
So, with higher education being an area Governor Pawlenty gutted to balance the state budget in 2003, he now sees the impact?
According to the Startribune...
"The governor said he would sign that legislation if it passed," Pawlenty spokesman Brian McClung said of a freeze Thursday after Seifert announced his proposal. While Pawlenty has not proposed a freeze, "he believes that tuition rates have increased too quickly in recent years," McClung said. The governor has proposed a plan that would provide free college tuition to high achieving students."
Wow, the Governor will sign a bill freezing tuition? Wow...I am actually shocked. I never thought I would see this happen.
But, it does not come without some controversey.
"A one-year fix is all well and good, but students go to college for at least four years," said Rep. Tony Sertich, DFL-Chisholm, the incoming majority leader, who dubbed the House Republican proposal "a one-time gimmick."
Two years ago, we understood the impact of a tuition freeze. We knew it was a band-aid solution. However, the work by students over the past two years has had an enormous impact on the movement in higher ed. A freeze forces schools to find and sustain efficiencies within the system.
"Seifert said rosier state budget forecasts make it possible to consider using state appropriations to help finance a tuition freeze, but he stressed that spending cuts could accomplish much of the job."
"For someone to tell me there isn't one ounce of fat from top to bottom at the University of Minnesota, I just think it's just not credible," Seifert said
Session begins next week! It will be interesting to see how this all shakes out. Nonetheless, it should be a good year for higher education.