Ashwin Madia's credentials as an Iraq Veteran are impeccable. His opponent, Erik Paulsen has struggled to obtain a position on the quagmire in Iraq or the possibility of conflict in Iran.
With that issue decidedly in Ashwin's favor, I will focus today's post on higher education.
Paulsen's record on higher education is poor.
Paulsen voted in favor of slashing higher education by $367 million, despite several years of record tuition increases at state colleges.
In April 2003, Paulsen voted in favor of the House version of the FY03 omnibus higher education finance bill. This bill funded the U of M, the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU), the Mayo Medical Foundation and the Higher Education Services Office.
It cut the U by $191.5 million over the following biennium and MnSCU by $176 million (roughly a 15% cut). Tuition increases were projected at roughly 15% each year under this package. The bill passed 81-51. [SF 1511, 83rd Session, House Journal p. 3075, 4/29/03]
For the majority of this decade, college students in Minnesota have faced the double digit tuition increases, under then House Majority Leader Erik Paulsen. Paulsen also voted against the bonding bill in 2007 and 2008. The legislation provides essential funding for the upkeep of facilities on campuses across the state and helps the economy locally by allowing for building projects on campuses.
Paulsen also opposed the DREAM Act in 2007.
Madia has actually served students, as the President of the Minnesota Student Association, in essence, the Student Body President of the largest school in the State of Minnesota. When you serve in positions like this, you gain a deep understanding of the broad range of higher education issues.
From Madia's website.
Keeping college tuition affordable is essential for helping young people get a good start in life. We can make college more affordable by doubling Pell Grants, increasing funding for Stafford Loans, and helping those graduates who choose public service jobs through loan forgiveness. By making college scholarships available to high school graduates who choose to pursue careers in engineering, science and math, we can help the next generation of Minnesotans be leaders in the innovation economy.
Madia also speaks eloquently about Veterans benefits. Specifically, for todays post, we talk about the Veterans education benefits.
Restore Education for Veterans
Current education benefits provided to veterans are far lower than those originally provided to the men and women who served in World War II. Veterans typically receive around $45,000 toward their education -- just 60 percent of the average cost of a four-year degree. Veterans should be able to attend the school of their choice and have access to no-interest or very-low interest loans if their GI benefits aren't enough. Also, veterans who don't use 100 percent of their benefits should be allowed to use the remaining amounts for their children's education. Congressman Walz has introduced legislation that would allow 16,000 National Guard troops to receive GI benefits after serving 20 months on active duty. Members of the Minnesota 1/34th Brigade Combat Team were ineligible for education benefits when they got back from combat duty in Iraq due to a technicality in the law. Improving education benefits is a much more appropriate and effective way to achieve military recruitment goals than other current practices.
Ashwin, as a Veteran...gets it!
Paulsen, however, continues his lip service towards college students.
His website has a nifty little link called "Ensuring Educational Opportunities".
Paulsen boldly boasts: (note that Paulsen spelled "prepared wrong on his education area!)
I am proud to have led the charge in the state legislature for education initiatives that give parents and students the choices they need to be better preprared for getting good jobs of the future.
Under Paulsen's watch, he worked to gut higher education and provide LESS opportunities for students from lower socio economic backgrounds. Paulsen helped create the "sticker shock" that has kept students from exploring these educational opportunities.
Higher education issues are significant in my eyes. They provide students with opportunities to grow, expand our economy, and help provide the state a well educated work force. Paulsen has been a thorn in the side of higher education for years.
Jim Ramstad on the other hand, has been a strong supporter of higher education. He's been a strong advocate for Pell Grant increases and opposed the 2006 Budget Reconciliation Act, which was a "raid on student aid".
Madia is a common sense choice here. He has experience on the issues and provides a plan. Paulsen provides a cheap slogan.Donate to Ashwin here!