Today's Springfield News-Leader offers columns by Governor Matt Blunt and Attorney General Jay Nixon, who are expected to face each other in the 2008 gubernatorial election, debating the proposed sale of MOHELA assets to finance construction at state colleges and universities.
A sampling from Nixon's column:
At a time when families are struggling to afford tuition, Gov. Blunt is advocating a plan that will make it more difficult for many Missourians and their families to finish college without a crushing load of debt. He has proposed diverting $350 million from the state’s student loan fund to help finance construction on our college campuses.
Certainly these new buildings can improve our fine institutions of higher learning, but I believe affordable education is more important.
New construction should not come at the expense of families caught in the middle-class squeeze. At the very time we preach education as necessary to success in the world economy, we are pricing our own children out of the market for higher education.
And a sampling from the governor's column:
The Lewis and Clark Discovery Initiative will benefit our public colleges and universities, help Missouri students, spur job growth and strengthen the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority (MOHELA). It will provide more than $335 million for capital improvement projects and $15 million for the Missouri Technology Corporation to assist with the commercialization of new technologies.
In addition to the $350 million contributed by MOHELA, the state will provide $25 million for student scholarships as an ongoing general revenue fund commitment and $60 million in additional funding for Federally Qualified Health Care Centers over a six-year period.
There is strong support in the higher education community for this proposal.