House Democrats unveiled their latest budget proposal Monday that would make significant reductions to higher education funding compared to the Senate’s budget proposal. Included in those reductions are resulting increases in tuition during the second year of the budget cycle and a decrease of $150 million in spending for colleges and universities over their June 1 proposal. Senate leaders have been adamant that the state reduce tuition in any budget to provide working families the equivalent of tax relief. Overall the House proposal would spend nearly $300 million less on higher education than the Senate version.
“That kind of cut is damaging to higher education,” said Sen. Barbara Bailey, co-sponsor of the Senate’s tuition reduction proposal, the College Affordability Program. “The latest proposal from the House majority is not a real proposal at all. It is billed as a no-new-taxes budget but many of the spending items require tax increases. For example, they’ve put forward a two-year tuition freeze that only happens if their companion tax bill is adopted. That is unacceptable. The Senate is committed to making college more affordable for working families and students, now. We have the resources to do it and we should. How long are we going to let our future continue to be burdened with debt because some lawmakers don’t have the political courage to make students a priority?”
Spending in the House budget proposal shifts funding from higher education and directs it mostly toward other social services. The proposal cuts higher-education funding and does not fund the one of the Senate’s top priorities, the College Affordability Program, which would lower college tuition by an average of 25 percent at state-run colleges and universities and limit future tuition increases.
“This latest offer from the House is the kind of budget that puts our state back on the track of underfunding higher education,” Bailey said. “It is a conscious decision to make everything but access to affordable higher education a priority. That is exactly the kind of thinking that led to tuition more than doubling over the last decade. I think every parent who wants their child to succeed by achieving their college goals should be appalled by this proposed spending decision.”