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05 March 2010

Guest Blogger: State Rep. Margaret Kaiser On College Education Cuts

Fighting For Our Future
By Rep. Margaret Kaiser

Georgia’s education system is under attack again. This time, our higher education system is the target. The Governor’s proposed budget has already cut $264 million from the state’s higher education system. Last week, Republican leadership ordered the University System’s Chancellor Erroll Davis to come up with a detailed plan to cut up to an additional $300 million.

This is simply unacceptable. We cannot cut our way out of this dire financial situation.

The budget cuts will eliminate 2,500 faculty and staff jobs. With Georgia’s unemployment rate over 10 percent, Georgia cannot afford to lose another 2,500 jobs. Over 500 courses at Georgia Tech will be eliminated and Georgia State University’s Brookhaven campus will be closed. The budget cuts mean the end of UGA’s statewide 4-H program and half of its county extension offices. Incoming freshman classes will be drastically reduced and transfer students will be turned away from UGA. An estimated 500 students will be forced to change majors or transfer elsewhere, possibly out of the state. For those who do not lose their jobs, their salaries will certainly be cut and tuition will skyrocket.

These budget cuts do more than hurt Georgia in the short-run. There are serious long-term implications for cutting $600 million from higher education. How can Georgia compete in a global economy with cuts like this? How can we expect our children to be prepared to enter the job market if our higher education system is so drastically underfunded?

My Democratic colleagues and I, like you, are shocked by the proposal. We must fight for Georgia’s students. It is our state’s obligation to provide adequate education for our children. These budget cuts do not do that. It’s time to stand up for our children and speaking out against this assault on higher education.

State Representative Margaret Kaiser (D - Atlanta) represents the 59th district in the Georgia House of Representatives. Kaiser was first elected to the legislature in 2006.