There is a clear contrast on higher education, Maggie Hassan, the Democratic candidate, for Governor said today contrasting her plan for a tuition freeze at New Hampshire's public colleges and Ovide Lamontagne's attacks on the idea at a debate on Tuesday.
"If I am Governor, we are going to begin restoring funding for our public colleges like UNH. And in exchange, I'm going to ask them to freeze tuition for next two years to make it easier for our middle-class families to afford college," said Hassan. "Helping students afford to attend school here in New Hampshire and graduate with fewer loans is a good thing for our state and our economic future."
Making higher education affordable, Hassan said, is crucial to keeping young people in state and ensuring New Hampshire has the workforce it needs for the future.
Ovide Lamontagne would take a very different approach. Although he apparently chose to go the University of Wyoming because of its affordable public tuition, Lamontagne opposes efforts to make public colleges and universities more affordable. He has said rising tuition costs are not his "utmost concern " and yesterday he attacked Hassan's tuition freeze plan as "price controls."
Hassan spoke to students at the University of New Hampshire at a grassroots campaign for President Obama's re-election campaign. The event featured President Bill Clinton, who emphasized the clear choices for voters in the upcoming state and presidential elections, especially for young people in New Hampshire.
The Tea Party legislature, which Ovide has praised, has cut funding to the public university system 50 percent, while Hassan's Innovate NH plan would include a restoration of this funding to help ensure the state has the best-trained workforce in the country.
"Ovide Lamontagne's opposition to freezing tuition costs for New Hampshire students and families shows just how out of touch he is with the priorities of the middle-class," said Matt Burgess, Campaign Manager for Maggie Hassan for Governor. "Tuition costs are not a concern to Ovide Lamontagne, but they are a concern to families and students across New Hampshire. Ovide Lamontagne has made clear that will not stand up to the Tea Party legislature and restore its devastating cuts to our university system. Maggie Hassan understands that helping New Hampshire residents afford higher education is critical both for attracting new businesses to our state and for helping young people succeed in those jobs. Once again, Ovide's extreme ideas will hurt middle-class families and New Hampshire's economy."
Hassan's "Innovate-NH" plan calls for a restoration of funding to New Hampshire's colleges and universities, in exchange for a two-year freeze in in-state tuition and a 10 percent increase in the number of spots available for New Hampshire students at state schools over the next five years. The plan also calls for expanding successful programs like the University of New Hampshire's Green Launching Pad, working to forge partnerships between businesses, non-profits and the universities to foster innovation and provide technical expertise, and working with the University and Community College systems to implement their joint plan to double the number of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) graduates by 2025.