Campaign continues to promote free college funding in video ads
Cliff with two of his five daughters, Jessica and Meredith.
Hartford - In his second television commercial, Green Party
gubernatorial candidate Cliff Thornton issues a renewed call for the
elimination of tuition and fees at Connecticut's public colleges and
The new 60-second spot, filmed at Eastern Connecticut State University
and the University of Connecticut Law School, is posted online at
"Connecticut must invest in its young people now," Thornton says. "We
must make state universities and colleges tuition and fee free.
Education is the most powerful weapon against ignorance and poverty. To
democratize our educational institution is to create long term
prosperity and security."
Thornton's new commercial explores how Governor M. Jodi Rell and the
Democrats in the state legislature have failed to create affordable
educational opportunities for students.
"We have to keep bringing this up, because the two parties ignore it,"
Thornton says. "The state has spent hundreds of millions making the
campuses look good, but why have new structures if students can't afford
to enter them? What's worse is that these young people borrow thousands
to gain access to those buildings, and then that debt forces them to
leave Connecticut after graduation because we rank almost dead last in
job growth nationally."
Investing heavily in education costs spurs economic growth, and will
create jobs, as any number of studies equate educational funding and
economic growth. The National Education Association in 2004 correlated
economic growth and educational investment.
"We can grow jobs by redirecting tax dollars to build our collective
intellectual capacity," Thornton says.
Thornton himself went to college to better his employment prospects.
"I wanted to advance my career, and the only way I could do that was
with a college education," Thornton says.
He graduated from Hartford Public High School in 1964, and had he gone
to UConn then, it would have been free. But after his mother died of a
heroin overdose, Thornton enrolled in the Army, and served in Germany.
He finally earned his bachelors' degree in marketing until 1986 at Post
University in Waterbury. He financed his tuition payments at the private
university with help from his employer, SNET, and the Veterans
"I understand everyone is not so lucky to have that kind of help, which
is why we need to eliminate tuition as a hurdle for students to earn
their education," Thornton says. "The retention rates at Connecticut's
public colleges are poor."
Pointing to Eastern Connecticut State University, like he does in the
commercial, Thornton notes that its two year retention rate is 59
"A large percentage of students who drop out do so because they cannot
afford school," Thornton says. "This is not right."
Thornton is advocating that people who leave college - for whatever
reason - should have the benefit of free tuition as well.
"If Governor Rell is ever interested in completing her degree, I don't
think, despite her years on the public payroll, that she should have to
pay, either," Thornton says. "Making education accessible to all should
be one of our top priorities. We need a GI Bill for all citizens. Until
everyone who wants to go can attend college, we are failing on
delivering the promise of the American dream."
The text of the ad is as follows:
"The two major parties consistently underfund education. Young people
suffer and our economy shows the effects when government slashes grants
to public universities. Consider Eastern Connecticut State University,
where tuition has outpaced inflation, putting school out of reach for
many worthy students. So how have the Republican governor and the
Democratic state legislature responded? They cut funding! The gap
between state funding and cost per student is almost $3,000. The problem
is not unique to Eastern. Isn't it time to start investing in our young
people. Let's eliminate tuition and fees at Connecticut's public
colleges and universities. Vote free college. Vote Green."
For more information, contact Ken Krayeske at 860-995-5842.