Green Party of Connecticut
Thornton for Governor
Thornton video ad calls for free higher education
Online at http://votethornton.com/pages/video.html
September 25, 2006
HARTFORD, CT -- Green Party gubernatorial candidate Cliff Thornton is calling for free higher education in Connecticut, paid for by lottery and casino revenues, a day before the University of Connecticut Board of Trustees will meet to consider the budget for the 2008-2009 school years.
"The UConn board will raise tuition again, like it has every year during the past decade," Thornton said. "The skyrocketing costs of tuition and fees make college unaffordable for many deserving students. By allowing this to happen, the Democrats and the Republicans in state government threaten Connecticut's economic viability."
In June, UConn's Board of Trustees increased in-state tuition 6.5 percent for 2007. According to a recent story in the student-run UConn Free Press, that raise brings "the total cumulative tuition hike since 1990 to 316 percent for in-state students and 264 percent for out-of-state students. Increases in financial aid, which are increasingly merit-based rather than need-based, have not been sufficient to alleviate the burden imposed upon families, particularly those that struggle financially."
What's even worse, Thornton noted, was that the The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education gave UConn and an "F" for affordability. The Free Press reported that Governor Rell called it a distinction "we can live without." Democrats, on the other hand, offer solutions like 529 savings accounts, which only work for people who have money to save.
"We need to apply the lessons of Brown v Board of Ed and Sheff v O'Neill to higher education, and make college available to all people," Thornton said.
The National Center for Public Policy's report card is available online at measuringup.highereducation.org/reports/
The Report Card indicates that because of those rising tuition rates, college enrollment among Connecticut's graduating seniors has declined in the past decade. Those outrageous costs put college out of reach for the children of low income people, and for those struggling to stay in the middle class, the dream of college becomes a nightmare of debt.
"It is not a coincidence, then, that young people move out of Connecticut at the second highest rate in the country," Thornton said. "The solution is free higher education. It will create more jobs and more opportunities for people. Education is a human right."
Anyone with graduating high school with a 2.0 should be eligible for free community college, and anyone graduating high school with a 3.0 should be eligible for free four-year college, Thornton said. This would require a massive investment in our educational infrastructure, but, "Our future is worth it," Thornton said.
The ad, filmed on the campus at the University of Connecticut Law School, states, "We Nutmeggers would be lucky if by 2008 Connecticut had the same number of jobs it had in 1998. Yet Connecticut businesses complain that they don't have enough skilled workers. As governor, I would use lottery and casino revenue to fund free tuition at our public universities and colleges for our young people. Upon graduation, let's ask them to stay for more four years."
By making post-graduation residency a requirement for free tuition, Thornton said that Connecticut can keep the vitality and energy of its youth here, and make the state a more exciting place to live.
Thornton said he hopes to use the online video not only as an organizing tool for students and parents, but as a way to raise money to buy airtime for it.