Minnesota voters are getting their money's worth with Congressman John Kline. The powerful chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce has been busy of late.
When he hasn't been tied up cheating Minnesota's special needs kids out of much-needed federal funding, the 67-year-old lawmaker has been voting to hack the number of Pell Grants many of his constituents rely on to pay for college.
Kline recently voted for the House Budget Committee's plan to cut $90 billion in Pell Grants between 2016 and 2025. The money has traditionally helped poorer kids pay ever-skyrocketing tuition costs.
According to the U.S. Census, roughly 42,000 college students live in Kline's district.
Meanwhile, when Kline hasn't been making higher ed less affordable, he's been working to blacktop over his history of shortchanging special needs kids.
In an editorial published in the Red Wing Republican Eagle, the congressman wrote, "Regrettably, the last decade has brought steady decreases in the federal contribution" to educating special needs children.
This despite the fact that the number of U.S. students enrolled in special ed programs has risen 30 percent over the same period.
He would go on to write how he'd recently "sent a letter to the House Committee on Appropriations requesting $1.6 billion more than what was allocated last year."
Omitted from Kline's letter was that most of this underfunding took place under his watch as chairman of the education committee. And that's left Minnesota taxpayers to pick up the tab.
The state had 123,785 special needs students in 2014. Congress spent $187.2 million toward their education.
Small problem: Federal lawmakers knew the kids needed almost $300 million more, so Minnesota taxpayers paid the difference.
But underfunding kids with Down Syndrome is one thing. Making sure Chairman Kline's House committee is copiously funded is another.
Earlier this year, the former Marine colonel authored a House resolution in which he asked for an almost 8 percent budget increase for his committee.
If the congressman has his way, his committee will cost taxpayers more than $7 million the next fiscal year. That's almost $1 million more than it cost to run it two just years ago.
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