Why did students reward pols whose party pushed for larger ed cuts?

One might think that constituents support those who bring in the money. But this year the organization representing students at Minnesota’s two-year colleges has awarded its legislator-of-the-year awards to leaders in the party that pushed for larger cuts in higher-education spending.

The Minnesota State College Student Association (MSCSA) has named Senate higher-education committee Chairwoman Michelle Fischbach (R-Paynesville) Senator of the Year, and her House counterpart, Bud Nornes (R-Fergus Falls), Representative of the Year.

(It’s also interesting, considering the University of Minnesota named Democratic Governor Mark Dayton its “Advocate of the Year” last fall.)

A member of the MSCSA said the awards usually have gone to those in power, or in some years have gone to a member of each party. And last year there was no award.

But last year was the Year of the Tuition Cap — something that Democrats were apparently not as helpful with.

MSCSA Vice President Darleen Tareeq told me:

“A cap was what was really important to our students. An overall increase in the state (higher-education) budget might get MnSCU a little money, but then MnSCU administrators might say, ‘Students are used to dealing with 5 percent or 7 percent (increases) each year, so they can deal with it again. .. (Fischbach and Nornes) both included a tuition cap in their bills and pushed it forward. There was a great deal of pressure not only from the MnSCU system but other lawmakers to remove the tuition cap, but they didn’t. And so we really respect that, because that’s hard.”

Fischbach’s acceptance video is above, and Nornes’ is below.