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Letter to the Editor: Blunt holds line on higher-ed funds

Thursday, April 14, 2005

To the editor:

Gov. Matt Blunt deserves a public thank you for standing firm in his support of higher education. Blunt has always said Missouri's colleges and universities are important to him. He proved it with the proposed budget he submitted to the legislature last week.

While the governor has trimmed $601 million from other parts of the budget, there are no proposed cuts to the core budgets for two- and four-year institutions of higher learning in fiscal 2006.

This is a breath of fresh air to those of us who lived with trepidation and uncertainty during the past four years as we watched the previous governor slash the state's financial support for higher education.

Between the beginning of fiscal 2002 and the end of fiscal 2004, TRCC saw $1.4 million in state funding evaporate.

Combined funding for the state's two- and four-year institutions of higher learning was cut during that period by a stunning $309 million.

To cut support for higher education is to cut future tax revenues for Missouri.

That's because higher education in general is key to Missouri's economic progress and ability to create jobs.

This is especially important in the areas served by TRCC where almost 30 percent of the people under age 18 are classified as living in poverty. Sixty-three percent of TRCC's students are considered low-income.

The combination of academic and technical education provided by TRCC provides a way to raise the standard of living for area residents and tangentially to increase state tax revenues.

Dr. JOHN F. COOPER, President, Three Rivers Community College, Poplar Bluff, Mo.