Voters back increases in university spending in series of local ballots.
Democrats have gained critical leverage to push back against the Trump administration’s higher education policies after they gained control of the US House of Representatives in the midterm elections, in which voters also expressed their support for university funding in a series of local ballots.
Democrats were projected to have gained as many as 35 seats in the 435-member House, previously held by the Republicans with a 240-194 majority. Republicans appeared to have slightly expanded their 51-49 majority in the Senate.
After two years in a government-wide minority position, control of the lower chamber of Congress gives Democrats much greater power to amend or thwart Trump administration policies. In higher education, those policies include toughening conditions on student borrowers, overhauling accreditation rules, and easing the burden on institutions to investigate sexual assault.
Control of a legislative chamber also gives Democrats power to begin subpoena-aided investigations into a range of administration actions. Education is not likely to be a top priority, although the tools could mean new scrutiny of education secretary Betsy DeVos in areas that include civil rights enforcement.
Among individual races, one of the most reviled political figures in terms of higher education policy, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker – who proposed cutting the University of Wisconsin’s budget by $300 million (£228 million) and removing tenure protections from state law – lost a close re-election race to Tony Evers, a Democrat currently serving as state superintendent of public instruction.
Mr Walker’s narrow defeat reflected a nation of voters who remain deeply divided on matters of party control and the Trump phenomenon, but largely united from coast to coast in their support for increased spending on higher education.
More than a dozen states posed ballot questions seeking voter approval for billions of dollars in tax increases or new borrowing authority to support education at all levels. With final tallies still being counted, the results appeared to show wins everywhere.
Read more : Paul Basken : Times Higher Education : 07 November 2018