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Dayton Pushes for Higher Education Money

Posted at: 02/07/2013 7:08 PM
By: Katie Eldred

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- In Wednesday evening's state of the state address, Governor Dayton emphasized the need for higher education funding. Dayton says he wants to add nearly a quarter of a billion dollars more to higher education funding.

The governor's proposal is music to the ears of officials at RCTC. 

Governor Dayton's revealed some startling facts about higher education funding in his Wednesday night address.

"In every biennium since 1980-81’ real state spending for post-secondary education has been higher than it is today," said Governor Dayton.

The state currently spends $569 million less to support higher education that it did in 1997.

Cut after cut in funding Minnesota higher education systems have had to make sacrifices.

"I was like yes, someone is actually talking about more funding for education," said RCTC president Don Supalla.

RCTC president Don Supalla says just two years ago they had to cut one million dollars in professors and other staff.

"Class sizes have gotten larger, we have reduced programs, and probably more importantly were cutting classes," said Supalla.

And those cuts have directly affected students in more than one way.

"It just kind of limits your future and what you can accomplish," said RCTC student Elisha Odegaard.

Odegaard says besides less class options, students are now paying more than ever for tuition.

"Good education is always going to cost some money, but we want to keep it as affordable as possible so most students can go and get education and enter the workforce," said Odegaard.

But the governor's desire to add $240 million more to higher education funding is giving both students and educators hope.

"In my 15 years as president this is the best Governors budget recommendation for higher education I've ever seen," said Supalla.

Of that $240 million for higher education, $80 million would go towards the Minnesota state grant program, $80 million would be set aside for MNSCU, and another $80 million for the University of Minnesota.