Higher ed. issue provides platform

By Mike Solley

Ensuring access to higher education for as many people possible and working for job training are some issues on the platform of presidential hopeful, U.S. Sen. Paul Simon, D-Ill.

Simon, elected to the U.S. Senate in 1984, authorized the formation of his presidential election committee Thursday. He said he formally will declare his candidacy May 18.

David Carle, Simon’s press secretary, said Simon often is referred to as “a social liberal and a fiscal conservative.” Simon intends to “recapture the dreams of the Democratic Party” and those of former Democratic presidents, Carle said. Former president John F. Kennedy’s dream of “a quality education for all Americans” is one dream Simon wants to reclaim, he said.

Simon has been instrumental in pushing educational measures through Congress, Carle said. “Simon has established summer institutes for foreign language training” and established college scholarships for high school students who want to become teachers, he said.

In addition, Simon does not agree with cutbacks in the higher education budget, such as the $1 billion budget reduction in the Pell Grant program proposed by President Reagan, Carle said. “Simon believes in keeping a balance between loan and grant programs. This enables more lower-income students to afford college,” he said. Simon prefers a balance which gives any student an equal chance to attend college, Carle added.

Simon also is in favor of improving the overall quality of American universities, Carle said. Simon is working on legislation which would provide matching funds to double the money colleges and universities receive from endowments, he said.

“I certainly think he is a good candidate,” said Mark Miedler, president of the NIU Young Democrats. However, it is too soon to really assess his potential as a candidate for president, he said.

Simon announced in February he would not run for president, opting instead to support U.S. Sen Dale Bumpers, D-Ark., in his bid for the White House. However, Bumpers dropped out of the race in March and the Democratic Party re-activated the search process for a presidential candidate.

Elected to the first of five terms in the Illinois House of Representatives in 1955, Simon also has served in the Illinois Senate and as lieutenant governor.