FitzGerald Proposes Big Spending Increase For Higher Education


UPDATED: Friday June 20, 2014 7:00 PM

Five months before election day the Democratic nominee for Ohio governor has proposed a major college funding education plan. 

Ed FitzGerald says Ohio is one of the worst states when it comes to funding higher education and he plans to change it.

Financial help couldn't come too soon for Karen Mitchell who, at 52 years old, is attending college for the first time.

She says she never expected to attend college, but then she found herself unemployed.

"It was devastating, I even needed to see a shrink for a minute because I didn't know what to do with myself," said Mitchell.  "I'm a meat cutter, a butcher, practically all my life."

Mitchell, fearing she didn't have the right skills for a new career, is now working on a degree.  But it doesn't come cheap.

"I've downsized," said Mitchell.  "I've downsized to the bare board floor."

FitzGerald has proposed an additional $160 million in state financial aid for current college students.

He's also advocating a college savings account that mimics the one he put in place in Cuyahoga County.

It would place $100 in a college savings account for every kindergartener.

"Everyone has to sit around a table and say how are we going to make it through the next semester," said FitzGerald.  "Less than 10 percent of our state budget is now spent on higher education and it hasn't been that low in 40 years."

FitzGerald says his plan will cost $200 million dollars.  He won't give specifics on how to pay for it, except to say it won't be through a tax increase.

"In a $62 billion budget it's relatively modest but it's what your priorities are," FitzGerald told 10TV.

The Ohio Republican Party disagrees.

Spokesman Chris Schrimpf responded that, "FitzGerald's 'tax and spend' approach to state policy underscores, yet again, how unfit he is to lead our state."

Republicans point to a bill Governor Kasich signed recently that makes it easier for High School students to gain college credits.

They say that will help keep college costs down, along with the tuition caps he's put into place.

For Mitchell, she's just hoping all sides will work together to lower college costs and debt.

"My kids have kids," said Mitchell.  "And even though the oldest one went to college she's still struggling to keep the household because everything is so expensive."

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