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Democrats Slam Republicans for Spurning Call to Discuss Higher Ed Costs in Special Legislative Session

Statement from the Democratic Party of Tennessee, June 26, 2012:

Democrats Standing Up for Students on Tuition Costs

Haslam and Ramsey Provide Excuses Instead of Leadership On Fixing Skyrocketing College Tuition Rates

NASHVILLE – Republican politicians in Tennessee have thumbed their noses at calls by Democratic leaders to come back to Nashville and focus on efforts to ease the burden on middle class families trying to send their kids to college.

“Students and families buried under college debt want solutions, not excuses from politicians,” said Jennifer Baldwin, President of the Tennessee Federation of College Democrats and a student at UT Knoxville. “We need leaders who understand that access to college is more than just part of the American Dream — Tennessee’s future and our economy depend on educating the next generation.”

On June 28th and 29th the Tennessee Board of Regents will meet to discuss tuition and fee increases of up to 4-7% for Tennessee’s colleges and universities, and earlier this month the UT Board of Trustees voted to increase tuition by 8% at UT-Knoxville. Seeking to stave off yet another large increase in tuition rates, House and Senate Democrats have called on Governor Haslam and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey to hold a special session to use the extra revenue to address our underfunded higher education system in Tennessee.

“After a legislative session that was long on right-wing rhetoric and short on solutions to the problems faced by the middle class; Republicans adjourned without accounting for the over taxation and over-collections of revenue and now, the price is being paid by our students and their families who choose to better their lives. This is the working people’s money, if we are not going to be spending it on the people we should give it back,” said Chip Forrester, Chairman of the Tennessee Democratic Party. “House and Senate Democrats are showing the courage that Tennesseans need, but haven’t seen out of Bill Haslam and Ron Ramsey.”

BACKGROUND

UT to seek 8 percent tuition increase at Knoxville [Megan Boehnke, KnoxNews.com , 6/19/12]

State Democrats want special session. Democrats call for a special session to reduce tuition costs and reduce the food tax after reports of the state collecting $225 million in revenue above previous estimates. Ramsey spokesman dismisses calls for special sessions citing Democratic control which ended nearly 6 years ago. [Andy Sher, Times Free Press, 6/21/12]

TN Democrats urge Gov. Bill Haslam to call summer session on taxes, tuition. Haslam spokesperson rejects calls for a special session, saying they will worry about it next year. [Chas Sisk, Tennessean, 6/21/12]

Haslam Signs State’s $31.5B Budget. Budget includes $500,000 earmark for a museum in Briston, VA pushed through by Ron Ramsey. [TNReport, 5/15/12]

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