Albert Bryan, Democratic gubernatorial candidate, said today that he listened “with interest” to Governor Kenneth Mapp’s hurricane preparedness press conference during which he outlined a program to provide free four-year college tuition at the University of the Virgin Islands for graduates of local high schools. The program would begin in 2019.
“The Bryan-Roach team believes that making higher education more accessible and affordable to our people is critical to improving the quality of life in our community,” said Bryan. “That is why this principle was included in our campaign’s education platform published at the beginning of this year.” (www.votebryanroach.com — platform section IV.5.D).
Lieutenant gubernatorial candidate Sen. Tregenza Roach first introduced Bill No. 30-0031 creating the Virgin Islands Fund for Higher Education in March 2013. He has since reintroduced the bill in the 32nd Legislature and maintains authorship to the legislation.
“Since day one of this campaign, we have vigorously pursued an initiative to offer tuition-free higher education at the University of the Virgin Islands. It is one of the initiatives that helped forge the partnership between Tregenza and me,” Bryan said.
“During our presentations over the last year, we told our audiences that we had costed the tuition free program out at approximately $3 million a year to put this program in place for eligible students. The governor’s proposal is eerily similar to the Senator’s bill and to our platform, so we are pleased that he has taken yet another one of our initiatives to incorporate into his pre-election campaign tour. But of course, the devil is always in the details. We look forward to reviewing the bill that will be sent down to the legislature,” said Bryan.
Excerpt from Bryan/Roach platform
Free college tuition for interested high school graduates:
To truly transition to a more educated community, we can and should offer free college tuition at the University of the Virgin Islands for local high school graduates that maintain a 3.0 grade point average. When former President Barrack Obama and Senator Bernie Sanders proposed free higher education, they were ridiculed by stateside conservatives, but it makes good policy sense. The Government of the Virgin Islands’ fiscal year 2017 executive budget appropriated $32.2 million for the university and $36 million for the Bureau of Corrections. By reducing expenditures of one agency, while increasing spending on the other, we can make a college education more attractive and accessible to our young people. It is time to end the era of mass incarceration and initiate the era of mass education in the Virgin Islands.