Attorney General Candidates: Pam Bucy (D), Tim Fox (R)
1) To what extent will you combat financial barriers (i.e. rising tuition) that students face in their pursuit of higher education?
BUCY: While the Attorney General does not play a role in crafting the budget for higher education in Montana, there are things I can do to advocate for students at our colleges and universities. There have been cases around the country of for-profit lending companies misleading and defrauding students through student loan scams. I had the opportunity to establish the Office of Consumer Protection at the Department of Justice as ranking assistant Attorney General, and I will continue to use this office to fight scams and fraud, protect students from fraudulent student loan scams, and continue to educate consumers and prevent these frauds from occurring in the first place. Students should be able to finance their education without fear of fraud and abuse; higher education is one of the most important investments Montanans make in their lives.
2) Montana State University just completed a long-term strategic plan which includes calls for raising enrollment by 2,000, increasing faculty pay to 80 percent of the national average, priority budgeting and enhancing the student experience. What steps can Montana’s lawmakers take to assist in the pursuit of MSU’s goals?
BUCY: Montana lawmakers should absolutely support the Montana University System’s goals in improving the access and quality of higher education in our state. The Board of Regents sets the policy of the MUS, and the Montana Legislature should support these efforts by passing a budget that funds higher education. I am a proud product of Montana’s public universities, and while the Attorney General cannot make budget or policy decisions for Montana’s universities, I absolutely support the mission of public higher education and applaud these institutions’ efforts to constantly improve the delivery of this important service.
3) Are Montana’s universities spending student and public money efficiently?
BUCY: I think Montana’s universities provide an incredible, quality education despite an ever-decreasing appropriation from the state. I applaud efforts by the university system to continue to freeze student tuition, increase retention and graduation rates, and educate the workforce for Montana’s future.