During a forum Monday night in Ames, the three leading Democrats running for governor promised to address students’ concerns about dramatically rising tuition at the three state-supported universities.
Mike Blouin, former director of Iowa’s Department of Economic Development, promised to freeze tuition at Iowa, Iowa State, and UNI if he’s elected governor.
“I believe I can move Iowa…in a way that will enhance a quality of life and quality of education second to none in this world,” Blouin said. Blouin, however, said there was no way to “realistically” cut tuition rates lower than they are today.
State Representative Ed Fallon of Des Moines said he’d repeal one-third of the state tax cuts which have been enacted in the past decade, and use much of that money on education.
“Education is absolutely essential,” Fallon said, lamenting the 62 percent jump in tuition at the state colleges over the past four years. “We have been underfunding education significantly.” But Fallon did not promise to freeze tuition rates at the three public universities.
Secretary of State Chet Culver said all the Democrats are “troubled” not only by those tuition hikes, but the level of debt students are accumulating.
“Restoring excellence in education is an absolute priority for me,” Culver said. “One of the reasons, in fact, I’m running for governor is because of the high cost of higher education, the high cost of community colleges.” Culver, however, did not offer any specific proposals on the subject.
Another Democrat in the race, Sioux City engineer Sal Mohamad, appeared at last night’s forum, too, and accused the other candidates of drawing their ideas “from a hat.”
“You only get promises, promises, promises that follow by excuses, excuses, excuses,” Mohamad said.
Last night’s candidate forum was held on the Iowa State University campus, and three students from ISU’s Political Science Club asked most of the questions.