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Iowa Democrats Want to Continue Tuition Freeze

DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa Senate Democrats said Friday that they plan to seek another tuition freeze at state universities for next school year.

The Democrats, who control the state Senate, issued a news release after meeting in Cedar Rapids, saying they would seek to freeze tuition at the three state universities for the 2014-15 school year. The freeze on tuitions this school year is the first in more than 30 years.

“Freezing tuition by controlling costs and increasing state investment is much better than asking struggling families to take out even more student loans,” Sen. Herman Quirmbach, D-Ames, said in a news release put out by Democratic senators after they met in Cedar Rapids.

The Iowa Board of Regents recently said it was backing another tuition freeze for undergraduate students. The proposed tuition freeze is included in a $652 million request to the Legislature for funding in 2014. That’s an increase of nearly $44 million from the current budget. If approved, it would be the first time since 1975 that the universities didn’t increase tuition for two consecutive years.

Lawmakers will return for the next legislative session in January. Democrats are calling on Republicans Gov. Terry Branstad and leadership of the Republican-majority state House to agree to the tuition proposal.

Branstad spokesman Tim Albrecht said the governor will announce his budget plans in January.

“The governor orchestrated the state’s first tuition freeze in 30 years this year. The governor will put together a budget that balances and is sustainable over the next five years, and will release his budget next January, when available resources are better known,” Albrecht said in an email.

Louis Vander Streek, spokesman for Republican House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, said House Republicans will support another tuition freeze. But he said they also want to make sure that university leaders don’t pad any future tuition increases to make up for the freeze. And House Republicans would like to see more administrative cost savings at the universities.

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