Pam Altendorf

Pam Altendorf

*Pam Altendorf represents District 20A in the Minnesota House of Representatives.

This session began with the Democrats being handed a more than $17.5 billion dollar surplus that then grew to $19 billion.

So where is that money? That surplus was spent. 

Not only is it gone, but in addition the Democrats have increased our budget by an unprecedented 38% going forward.

We are at a crossroads in Minnesota. 

We are a 51/49 state being run by Democrats who are in complete control of state government, only because Republicans lost one Senate seat in Hastings by 321 votes. Why then are they pushing forward with such an extreme liberal agenda that would make one think we are a 70/30 or deep blue state? 

What we are seeing is a socialist movement. Increasing taxes to pay for their socialist programs that they are pushing on us.

The cheese is never free.

The most recent slice of cheddar is a Democrat House/Senate compromise plan that will fund Minnesota’s higher education budget for the next two years. Included in this agreement is language that offers “free” college tuition for Minnesota students if their family has an adjusted gross income below $80,000.

Specific language in the bill notes that more than $215 million will be spent to provide “free” college to Minnesota students at a Minnesota public post-secondary institution.

There are other problematic provisions in the higher education agreement: an 18.5% increase in spending, the deletion of workforce development scholarships which helps students who are studying in high-demand fields, and providing “free” menstrual products to students by having them placed in both girls – and boys – restrooms. This “free” menstrual product program will cost taxpayers more than $2 million.

While these proposals are nonsensical and outrageous, it’s the “free” college language, which never received a hearing much less a debate in the Minnesota House, that really takes the cake.

As many of you know, we have five children, each one very different from the other. One took five years to finish college, one did it in 3.5 years. One worked multiple jobs and was creative with earning money throughout high school and college and graduated from college with no college loans or debt. The others all took out loans and had some debt. One child decided a more expensive college was his best fit, another child wanted a low-cost college education.

Here’s my point: everyone is different.

As the idea of socialism continues to creep into our daily lives and gain advocates, I would suggest thinking about the idea that state government is now going to pay for college.

And remember, much like anything else with the Democrats when it comes to spending, this is just the starting point. At what point will the “free” college family income threshold creep up to $100,000? Or $150,000?

Where is the incentive to graduate early when the government is picking up the tab?

The student getting this handout literally has no skin in the game and learns nothing of fiscal responsibility. Under this provision, students are only required to take 1 credit to receive this benefit with no requirements to work toward a marketable degree – such as teaching, law enforcement, or health care to name a few – which would make the graduating college student valuable to our workforce. 

And what if the student decides to leave Minnesota to work elsewhere after completing “free” college, leaving taxpayers high and dry?

This plan is actually an insult to any family that put money aside in order to help their kids attend college, and to any student who spent countless hours putting in the time to get good grades and fill out scholarship applications so they could cut down on future college debt.

These measures will become law as Gov. Walz has said he will sign the higher education funding proposal. And while state government is now in the college giveaway business, remember this bill does nothing to address the real problem in higher education, which is skyrocketing tuition for those who are still stuck paying for it.

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