In the midst of chaos, trying to cover the $223 million hole in our current budget; due to projected revenue shortfalls from the budget created this spring, as well as the devastating forest fires, Gov. Bullock has proposed the best way to cover that hole in this un-ideal situation. He suggests reallocating around $75 million from different excess money pools, creating around $75 million in revenue by taxing luxury items such as lodging or rental cars, and lastly to cut around $75 million in funding to state programs.
What does this special session then mean to Montana students? Students oppose any more funding cuts to the University System other than the $4.8 million Gov. Bullock has already proposed. Students know these cuts affect everyone negatively, but ask Montanans and the state legislators to not place this burden on students any more. The Montana University System took a deduction of $11 million this year. Tuition at UM increased by nearly $800 and students even saw their class fees double or triple to $500 or more. MSU and all other Montana colleges were also strongly hit.
Secondly, as an ASUM senator, I know the University System took a harder hit than most any other agencies in the state as well. Don’t me wrong: Students don’t want to lessen their cuts by inconveniencing other agencies with more cuts. This is why Gov. Bullock’s proposed plan to essentially cut everyone equally is deemed the best fit for the special session ahead of us.
Lastly, a reminder that these cuts are students livelihoods; it’s the difference between dropping out or graduating, affording rent or being homeless, between supporting their families or living in poverty. Students already work a second, third or fourth job while attending school. Do not make them the scapegoat any longer.
Sylvia Borstad is a student at the University of Montana in Missoula.