It isn't the most compelling political ad I've ever seen--nor is its subject the most charismatic politician ever to stand before a video camera. But the content of the ad is pretty interesting.
Cliff Thornton is calling for free tuition at state universities and community colleges for all eligible state residents. The catch? You have to remain in Connecticut for four years following graduation. The idea behind Thornton's plan is to open up high education to those who could never otherwise afford it.
In a press release today, Thornton said that "The UConn board will raise tuition again, like it has every year during the past decade... The skyrocketing costs of tuition and fees make college unaffordable for many deserving students. By allowing
this to happen, the Democrats and the Republicans in state government threaten Connecticut's economic viability."
Thornton noted that the UConn Board of Trustees raised in-state tuition by 6.5% for 2007 at their meeting this June.
"It is not a coincidence, then, that young people move out of Connecticut at the second highest rate in the country," Thornton said. "The solution is free higher education. It will create more jobs and more opportunities for people. Education is a human right."
Ken Krayeske, campaign director for Thornton, said that the program would cost "about $1.1 billion" per year, but that a combination of state and federal funds would be able to pay for it. Thornton wants to use revenue from the lottery and the casinos as primary sources of funding. Krayeske pointed out that the Rell car tax cut, which would have been funded by casino revenue, would have cost $435 million, and that the federal government bonds $250 million per day to fight the Iraq War.
"The legislature funded a $300 million football stadium that is used maybe 10 nights a year," Krayeske said, "So I am convinced it could find a way to pay for higher education.