Sunday, March 04, 2007

College Textbooks in Minnesota

I Don't Hate America, a blog by Winona State University students, has a great piece on college textbook issues in Minnesota.

DJ Danielson writes!

Really, does a textbook publisher need a $9 Million tax break? At the risk of sounding like someone who is carrying the water for Jason Lewis, I must ask: Since when do conservatives like boondoggles such as this?

Unlike the governor, who seems to be alienating every little bit of his conservative base, I shall play all my cards face up on the table: I am an independent-minded progressive. A part of this philosophy includes withholding public subsidies for private corporations unless there is a substantial public interest being served. I would include the Minnesota Twins stadium as a substantial public interest, albeit to the chagrin of some of my colleagues. Shouldn't, though, not throwing money left and right at every business that comes forward be a champion cause of the GOP, not the DFL? If so, why is T-Paw fighting so hard for a project such as this?

My point being: textbook prices are nuts. No, this is not just a college student bitching in an unsubstantiated fashion. Check out our Student Senate's website and see how much students are paying for textbooks. Instead of throwing out a tax give away to a company which sells "Fundamentals of Legal Research" at $67 and the "Law of Bankruptcy" for $54.50, shouldn't the state maybe give a credit to those students giving up limbs to these publishers as it is?

Maybe instead of charging $54.50 for it, Thomson-West can just give everyone a copy of "Ross' Principles of Anti Trust Law" as if things keep going the way they do with textbooks, that is exactly the road they will be down.

Luckily, we have allies on both sides of the aisle in St. Paul. Sen. Chuck Wiger (DFL-North St. Paul) and Sen. Claire Robling (RPM-Jordan), both of whom Jason, Ian and I have had the opportunity to lobby thus far this session, among others who are introducing the Textbook Pricing and Access Act. The fight for fair textbook prices is nothing new; a bill was introduced last session which our friend and former MSUSA State Chair Hal Kimball at Blue Man in a Red District testified on behalf of to make a textbook advisory commission. The bill was included in the Omnibus Higher Ed bill which didn't reach the house floor, however the Office of Higher Education formed a taskforce anyway, which was overwhelmed by publishers (again, a blog for another day), and thus no real resolutions came forth.

$9 million. The state of Minnesota could pay for A LOT of textbooks for students with that money. Maybe we should try and spearhead a rental program? Nah, let's give it to a for profit business instead. How about that FREE MARKET, GOPers?

Excellent work DJ!

No comments: