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Your tax dollars will go to private schools

Friday, March 2, 2007

Dear Editor:

Many newspapers covered the announcement of 14 former curators of the University of Missouri who unanimously oppose Senate Bill 389. While the newspapers did give good coverage to the fact that some of the provisions of the bill may be unconstitutional or unenforceable, they failed to address four or five other provisions of the bill that should make it unacceptable or questionable to all Missourians.

One of the areas of concern is the start of a new student aid program.

In Section 173.1103.3 "There is created in the State Treasury the "Access Missouri Financial Assistance Fund." . . . Section 173.1105.1 provides that, beginning with the 2007-08 academic year, a student "who meets the other eligibility criteria" shall be entitled to a state grant, which does not have to be repaid.

The language of the Bill regarding the minimum and maximum award amounts to students is as follows:

(1) One thousand dollars maximum and three hundred dollars minimum for students attending institutions classified as part of the public two-year sector;

(2) Two thousand one hundred fifty dollars maximum and one thousand dollars minimum for students attending institutions classified as part of the public four-year sector; and

(3) Four thousand six hundred dollars maximum and two thousand dollars minimum for students attending approved private institutions.

You have read this correctly. Your state legislators and Governor Matt Blunt want to give, not loan, students money to attend private colleges. While all of us value the role of private schools, this is a use of tax dollars to benefit private institutions at the expense of properly funding the public colleges and universities of our state.

As you can see from the bill, a student attending a private college will get $4,600 per semester while a student attending Missouri State, University of Missouri, Southeast Missouri State and all other four-year public institutions only receives $2,150.

It makes no sense for our governor and legislature to start giving private colleges and universities your tax dollars to fund those institutions when legislature has seen fit to fund our public universities at a rank of 47th in the nation.

What is wrong with low interest student loans which require the student to pay back the benefit of his or her education?

If you are concerned at the prospect of using your state tax dollars to fund private colleges call and e-mail the legislators in the Missouri legislature. Your opinions really do matter to your elected representatives.

Call or e-mail your legislator and the governor today. Governor Matt Blunt can be reached at 573-751-3222. To obtain the e-mail address of your state senator and representative, go to www.senate.state.mo.us and www.house.state.mo.us.

Sincerely,

John P. Lichtenegger

Jackson, Missouri