Tuition freeze bill dies in senate committee

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Story by Mikayla MarshallStaff writer

Murray State and other universities around Kentucky panicked at the proposal to freeze tuition but will not have to worry because the bill did not pass.

“The bill could not even get out of the senate committee,” said Rep. Rick Rand, D-Bedford.

He said he opposed the bill from the beginning and never expected it to get out of the senate because the cost of education is too high.

Senate Bill 75 came about when Senate Majority Caucus Chairman Dan Seum said he was frustrated with the escalating cost of university tuition and fees that he wanted freeze them for four years and let state lawmakers decide if they should be changed, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Seum said tuition increases at the state’s public universities have far outpaced state funding cuts. He said universities of seeing students as cash cows and chided them for raising tuition because the state legislature has not been providing sufficient funds.   

Murray State has been doing their best in response to the budget cuts. Many were worried because a freeze in tuition would hinder all higher education institutions’, including Murray State’s, ability to provide high quality academics.

“The commonwealth cannot move forward if education is not taken seriously,” said Jordan Smith, director of Governmental Relations.

He said the university recognizes the pension system crisis and appreciates the governor but does not want higher education to be hindered in the process.

Since there was no motion made in the Senate Education Committee, the bill was unable to impact universities.

“Every student government association in one way or another voiced opposition to it,” President Bob Davies said.

Rand said he relies on university presidents to keep him and other legislators up to date on the cost of education. He said he understands that universities are wary about the budget cuts and finances because the cost of education does not go down, and they have to pay for it somehow.

“These cuts can be much more dramatic than they appear,” Rand said.

Universities are constantly competing to attract students, and in order to remain competitive, they have to pay to keep high quality programs and resources.

“I think it is kind of silly,” said Kristi Mills, senior from Waverly, Kentucky. “People in higher education are the ones who are going to change the future and without those people getting an education, then how are they going to do that?”

She attended the March for Education Feb. 25 in Frankfort, Kentucky, and said she enjoyed being a part of something special that doesn’t happen very often. She said she understands both sides of freezing tuition, and though she would like for college to be priced at a steady rate, she is not opposed to tuition increase because it will go to pay off budget cuts and make Murray State better.

“There is always going to be cuts because of cost, but the way they’re going about it is not fair,” said Katlin Walker, junior from Murray.

She said legislators should take the students into more consideration and wants organizations to remain active on campus.    

The bill may be a matter for a future legislative session but is not expected to pass even if it makes it out of the senate.