Gubernatorial candidates say tuition must be more affordable


The Daily Iowan; Photos by James

Democratic candidate in the Iowa gubernatorial race, Cathy Glasson, speaks during a political event called “The Afterbern” at The Mill on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017. (James Year/The Daily Iowan)

Molly Hunter, [email protected]

Two candidates for Iowa governor focused on the importance of ensuring affordable tuition for Iowa’s college students at an event at the Mill, 120 E. Burlington St., on the evening of Aug. 31.

AfterBern, put on by Our Revolution Johnson County, took place after Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., spoke about his new book, Bernie Sanders Guide to Political Revolution at Hancher.

A number of candidates running for various elected offices throughout Iowa spoke at the event. Among them were gubernatorial hopefuls Cathy Glasson, a Coralville resident and president of Service Employees International Union Local 199, and Jon Neiderbach, a Windsor Heights attorney. Both said affordable tuition is important to Iowa’s long-term success.

“Within the first month of being elected as governor, I will challenge the Iowa Legislature to put a plan in place to make community college free … that’s the first thing we need to do,” Glasson said. “The other thing we need to do immediately is to freeze tuition at all of our public universities.”

RELATED: UI waits on tuition freeze news

Glasson said she is working with students, educators, and education experts to put a plan together to make Iowa a leader in education once again.

“[Iowa] needs to make sure we have a plan in place so that students do not graduate with debt; it’s affordable college tuition,” she said.

One way Glasson said she will accomplish that is by making sure wages go up for all Iowans, which will improve the tax base for everyone.

“And then we can, instead of giving tax breaks to Apple to get 50 jobs in the state at the cost of $200 million, we invest that in higher education and K-12,” Glasson said. “It’s a question of where your priorities lie.”

Neiderbach said the topic of affordable postsecondary education is near and dear to him, because his father was a financial-aid administrator.

“We used to discuss financial-aid policy over the dinner table. I’m in favor of debt-free college,” Neiderbach said. “You need to start … rolling back tuition and committing to letting students graduate as close to debt-free as possible.”

RELATED: Report reveals declining debt among grads

Taking money away from various business credits would cover the cost of moving toward debt-free college in Iowa, Neiderbach said. But it’s not just a matter of addressing the cost of tuition, he noted.

“If you just make tuition free, it doesn’t address living costs,” Neiderbach said. “Which for a lot of folks, if you’re living away from home, is a significant amount of money.”

Mazahir Salih, who is running for a seat on the Iowa City City Council and serves as president of the Center for Worker Justice of Eastern Iowa, also appeared at the AfterBern event. Affordable housing and transportation in Iowa City are top priorities for her.

“I know students usually like houses close to the university, which is not available a lot,” she said. “But there are many solutions for that. We can [improve] our public transportation system so that students … know they have access to transportation so it’s easy to get to the university.”

RELATED: Iowa City works on providing affordable housing

Affordable housing is not just a student issue in Iowa City, Salih said.

“There are many, many people in this community — it doesn’t matter if they are retiring on fixed income, or just parents who want a house for their children, or students who just came,” Salih said. “They have been forced out of our city … They cannot afford to live here.”

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