USA Today reported this week that roughly 90 million Americans won’t vote in November. Dubbed “unlikely voters,” there are numerous reasons these Americans often won’t make it to the polls. 41 percent of those surveyed reported that they won’t vote in November simply because their “vote doesn’t make a difference anyway.” For those working in and around government in Tennessee, that statement is unsettling.
Our state recently experienced a primary election where some winners were determined by just a few votes. There was one candidate that lost by five votes. Others lost by eleven, fifteen, forty-one, and 105 votes. These races were quite literally down to the wire. Those running would tell you: EVERY VOTE COUNTS.
When the General Election rolls around in November, don’t become part of this statistic. Head to the polls and be an issues voter. To help you learn more about candidates running in your area, UT Advocacy partnered with the UT Alumni Association to administer a survey on higher education issues to all Tennessee legislative candidates. Although results won’t be available until mid-September, a sneak peek of the questions we are asking is provided below.
Remember: Early voting begins October 17. Election Day is November 6. Don’t be an unlikely voter. Be an issues voter. Head to the polls and remind those running that you expect them to vote ORANGE.
Here is what UT Advocacy is asking candidates:
State Support for Higher Education
Ten years ago, state appropriations accounted for nearly 60% of the cost to educate Tennesseans in our public postsecondary institutions. Today, that funding has been reduced to 32%, thus forcing the out-of-pocket costs to students to rise over the same period. Due to recurring budget cuts to higher education, campuses have been forced to offset a portion of those reductions with increased tuition, grants, and private gifts. Tuition is the only source of recurring funding the University can control to ensure the provision of high quality education, research, and outreach to the entire state.
1. Would you oppose or favor efforts to maintain, if not increase, state funding for higher education?
2. Would you oppose or favor efforts to cap, freeze, or place other constraints upon tuition?
Essential to the land-grant mission of the University of Tennessee are the “non-formula” units such as the UT Health Science Center, the UT Institute for Agriculture, and the Institute for Public Service. These entities are directly responsible for carrying out research, community outreach, and public service in each of Tennessee’s 95 counties. However, the funding model for these units has not kept pace with the ever-expanding demand for the services these units provide.
3. Would you oppose or favor expanding current state appropriations to the University’s non-formula units to better meet the service and outreach needs of local governments and Tennesseans across the state?
Campus and Workplace Safety
Recent years have seen legislative attempts to increase the presence of weapons on public college campuses. Current state law already allows select individuals to possess and carry guns on campus in conjunction with their official duties.
4. Would you oppose or favor alterations to current law that would have the effect of increasing the presence of guns on campuses and in the workplace?
The HOPE Lottery Scholarship Program provides grants and scholarships to qualifying Tennessee residents attending regionally accredited private or public postsecondary institutions in Tennessee. The program has experienced fiscal shortfalls in recent years due to increases in participation that exceed growth in revenues, causing concern about the program’s long-term solvency. Despite those concerns, some recent legislative attempts have focused on expanding the use of lottery funds to include for-profit schools.
5. Would you oppose or favor legislation further authorizing the use of HOPE scholarships at for-profit schools?
6. If participation continues to exceed revenues, which measure would you support in order to ensure fiscal solvency for the Lottery Program? [Answer options: Raising academic eligibility requirements; Lowering the amount awarded per scholarship; Both; Neither; Not sure; Comments:___ ].
Be an informed voter!
Check back for results before early voting
begins on October 17th.