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Senator speaks on high cost of education

April 22, 1997

Kevin Johnson / The Baylor Lariat

U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, left, talks with students and others after a short speech Monday in the Baines-Fentress Room of the Bill Daniel Student Center.

By Cindy Szelag

Lariat Reporter

With the cost of tuition rising almost every year, paying for college can be an important issue in the lives of University students and their parents.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison [R-Texas] addressed these and other concerns of students Monday in the Bill Daniel Student Center. Hutchison summarized legislation she has proposed to make college more accessible for parents and students and stabilize the economy for college graduates entering the job market.

The Safe and Affordable Schools Act she has introduced will give tax breaks to parents providing for their child's education, Hutchison said. It will also allow parents to set aside $1,000 per year per child from the time of birth in a special account to pay for room, board and tuition. Withdrawals from this account would not be taxed and are deductible.

The act also has a provision for student loans, Hutchison said. For the first five years a student is repaying a loan, $2,500 per year will be deducted from taxes on the interest.

Hutchison also praised the programs that Texas and other states have which allow parents to prepay college tuition for their children and stressed the need to keep them as inexpensive as possible.

'We want the contributions to that as well as what you take out of it to be tax-free,' Hutchison said.

Hutchison said she probably had 50 supporters for the act, although she was not certain if the support included Democrats as well as Republicans. The supporters are very important for the act to pass, because the proposed tax breaks would cost around $7 billion over seven years. Hutchison said the money would be well worth working into the federal budget.

'I think when we're talking about lowering federal spending, we're talking about prioritizing,' Hutchison said.

In addition to tax breaks for college education, Hutchison said she has been working with Sen. Phil Gramm [R-Texas] on the National Research Investment Act of 1997, which would increase the amount of federal dollars allotted to research in universities and laboratories.

Hutchison said research is what keeps the United States economy flourishing.

'Research is creating new technologies that create new industries,' Hutchison said. 'If we can't afford the luxury of research and technology, we will go the way of many European economies, which are stagnant.'

Hutchison said the focus of the Senate this year will be to balance the budget. In order to accomplish this, she said, Medicare will have to be reformed.

'The worst thing we can do to you who are coming into the economy is to give you a budget that is haywire,' Hutchison said. 'Balancing the budget is key to the future prosperity of our country.'

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