MONTGOMERY - Troy University Student Government Association President Heath Barton cited the economic impact higher education has on the State of Alabama in calling for increased funding for the state's public universities during Thursday's Higher Education Day Rally on the State House steps.
The annual rally is sponsored by the Higher Education Partnership of Alabama and draws students, faculty and staff from the state's public colleges and universities in an effort to raise awareness about the impact of higher education and advocate for increased state funding.
"Alabama's universities currently have a combined economic impact of over $ 20 billion annually," Barton said. "This can continue to grow, as we now know that for every $ 1,000 increase in higher education funding, there is a direct $ 8.7 million increase in total per capita income. But, this number will drop dramatically if higher education continues to be overlooked and underappreciated. These facts cannot be overlooked because they are proof that higher education serves as a pillar of success for Alabama, the United States, and the world."
The Higher Education Partnership has advocated for one-third of the state's Education Trust Fund be allocated for higher education with the remaining two-thirds going to fund K-12 education.
"Today, 67 percent of Alabamians favor increased funding for public universities, and this number continues to grow as more and more people realize the importance of higher education in bettering the lives of people in Alabama," Barton said.
Barton also challenged students in attendance to join forces and become involved.
"Let us not sit back and simply observe the actions of our elected officials and state leaders," he said. "Let us, instead, become fully engaged in the governing process and in funding all of education adequately - Pre-K through PhD. Let us toss aside our differences and rivalries, and let our attendance here today stand as a declaration of our desperation for focus on higher education."
Troy University SGA President Heath Barton challenged Alabama legislators to increase funding for higher education, calling for the Legislature to designate one-third of Education Trust Fund to support colleges and universities in the state, saving two-thirds for K-12 education. (TROY photo/Kevin Glackmeyer)