To the editor:
As the General Assembly returns to Jefferson City, a genuine opportunity to have a positive, long-term impact on all Missourians awaits legislators. Higher education is a driving force in Missouri's economy. Without an educated work force, how can we expect companies to bring jobs to the state?
Higher education has sustained a reduction of over $400 million in cuts and withholdings during the last two years. Institutions have reduced administrative costs, ordered hiring freezes, implemented program cuts, increased class sizes and postponed necessary building updates and modifications, all of which impact a student's learning experience.
The most severe effect of the higher education cuts, however, lies directly with the pocketbooks of students and their families. Missouri college students who have had to bear the brunt of repeated tuition increases now face a reduction in grant and scholarship money. Many families are being priced out of an education at a time when the state should be encouraging participation in higher education.
Gov. Bob Holden has presented various options to increase state revenue without a general tax increase. He has suggested closing corporate tax loopholes that cater to a favored few companies to help alleviate some of the strain. I urge the General Assembly to seriously consider this and other options in order to save the state years of playing catch-up in the future.
Missouri Coordinating Board for Higher Education
Jefferson City, Mo.