Gov. Tim Walz, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, Office of Higher Education Commissioner Dennis Olson, and OHE Director of Communications Sandy Connolly visited SCTCC yesterday as part of Gov. Walz’s statewide tour to discuss his proposed budget, specifically the education portions.
SCTCC and SCSU Students, faculty, staff, and community members packed the room and brought up topics from tuition increases to the gas tax.
Gov. Walz’s budget focuses on an increase in funding for education from preschool through grade 12, as well as $158 million in funding to support higher education. This would include $62 million in student grants.
“It is more expensive and harder for you to go to school now than it was in the past. That is simply factual. It used to be, buckle down, get another job. It doesn’t work that way,” stressed the Governor.
SCTCC Student Senate representatives asked specific questions: Mohamed Yerrow questioned the grant aid that’s provided to the state’s community and technical college students versus the state’s public and private four-year university students; and Hailey Koenig asked about possible tuition increases.
“Education’s the great equalizer in this country,” said Gov. Walz.
The forum, which lasted about 45 minutes, was followed by a tour of the Energy and Electronic program, where instructor Aaron Barker and students explained how industry is in short supply of workers. Recent grads of the program have made more than $30/hr directly after graduating.
Questions during the forum also focused on a trade-based education in high school, pointing out that for many people, a traditional bachelor’s degree is not the answer. The tour of the Energy and Electronics program was a nice bookend to that discussion, showing that students can learn a trade as well as the soft skills needed in industry.