Facebook friend Jordan William Halverson Wente graduated yesterday from the University of Minnesota at Morris with high distinction and a triple major in economics, Spanish and statistics; on Thursday, he received an email offering a full tuition scholarship for a MSc in Sustainable Energy Systems Engineering at Danmarks Tekniske Universitet - DTU in Copenhagen.
Times being what they are, he accepted the offer.
In between those life events, Wente also had a letter published in the Morris Sun Tribune. Here's what the whippersnapper wrote in Higher education budget lets down students:
The higher education budget passed by House Republicans and Jeff Backer is a shameful disappointment to Minnesota’s college students and families.
It should be self-evident by now that education is under attack from House Republicans. With a $2 billion budget surplus, and a looming student debt crisis, Republicans prioritize tax cuts for dead people and skyscrapers over freezing tuition for 67,000 students at the University of Minnesota. Their K-12 education bill doesn’t keep pace with inflation and will result in teacher layoffs and larger class sizes.
University of Minnesota students will see significant tuition increases because of the lack of funding offered by the Republican majority and Jeff Backer. Not only that, but Republicans didn’t see fit to pass any of the oversight measures put in place by the previous DFL majority.
The Republicans also borrow money from the State Grant program that helps low income students afford college and they place new burdens on community colleges.
Somehow, they were able to find $3 million for building renovations on the Crookston and Morris campuses of the U of M, but nowhere else in the state. Both are coincidentally located in the districts of politically vulnerable Republican members. Gee-whiz.
Sadly, this is exactly what I would expect from Jeff Backer. He recently sent out a picture of himself posing with Governor Scott Walker. He’s the man currently destroying the University of Wisconsin system with the same reckless budgeting. I’m sure Mr. Backer picked up some handy tips for how to destroy a prestigious institution of higher learning.
Here's the publicly-funded Legislative Update (4-24-15) that Wente references as including a photo of Scott Walker with the cutline:
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker visited the Capitol this week. His message about reform, growth and safety was refreshing. I was impressed how sensible and down to earth he was. Thanks for visiting Governor Walker!
FOX9 News reporter Tim Blotz reported in Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker makes Minnesota visit:
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker met with Republican state lawmakers at the Minnesota Capitol on Thursday. He made no comments to the media prior to the closed-door meeting, but stopped to answer a few questions afterward, with House Speaker Kurt Daudt at his side. . . .
Former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, now vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee, authored an opinion column in the Star Tribune that highlighted Minnesota's $1 billion budget surplus and Wisconsin's $2 billion deficit.
The title of Rybak'scolumn sums it up: Gov. Walker, welcome to a state that works (just sayin').
In Scott Walker defends Wisconsin economy in trip to Minnesota, the Associated Press via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel noted, like Fox9 News, that Backer's meeting with Walker wasn't open to anyone other than Republican House caucus members:
Walker's closed-door session with legislators — and later gatherings with top business leaders and a conservative group — come as he nears an announcement on a White House campaign after taking several preliminary steps toward a bid, including hiring staff and taking repeated trips to states with early primaries.
How unfortunate that Backer declined to let his constituents know those political details about the photo he shared with constituents. That "refreshing" message about "reform, growth and safety" wasn't on the record.
But nice picture when shared without context.
Photo: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, left, on the presidential campaign trail, with freshman Minnesota state representative Jeff Backer (R-Browns Valley), during a closed-door, GOP-only meeting at the state capitol. Backer shared the photo in a publicly-funded legislative update to constituents. University of Minnesota at Morris honors student Jordan Wente was not impressed.
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