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S.C. gubernatorial candidates' responses

Here are answers to three questions posed to South Carolina's gubernatorial candidates during Tuesday night's forum on highereducation at Winthrop University. Republican U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett couldn't attend because of a vote in Washington.

Should S.C. colleges aggressively seek out-of-state students to help increase revenue?

ANDRE BAUER, Republican: Absolutely, without question. Out-of-state students bring diversity to South Carolina. South Carolina wants students from all walks of life and from all over the world coming to the state's colleges and universities.

ROBERT FORD, Democrat: If a South Carolinian wants to attend a college, the state should provide for that. The key is finding enough revenue for that to happen. He said he has a plan to the find the necessary revenue. A major proposal of Ford's campaign has been to bring back video poker, which was banned in 2000. Ford says video poker would increase tax revenue.

NIKKI HALEY, Republican: The state must ensure it's educating South Carolinians first and then focus on out-of-state students.

HENRY McMASTER, Republican: He would leave it up to the college presidents and boards of trustees. He believes South Carolina's colleges and universities are for South Carolinians first. But the state needs help from out-of-state students to help fund higher education adequately.

JIM REX, Democrat: The state can't tell out-of-state students, "y'all come," if it's not adequately funding higher education. The state is funding its colleges and universities at 1984 levels. Out-of-state students provide diversity and brainpower. But they shouldn't be admitted to the exclusion of South Carolina students.

VINCENT SHEHEEN, Democrat: South Carolina colleges and universities can educate both in-state and out-of-state students. Out-of-state students enrich the state. But it's paramount that education is accessible and affordable for all students.

With state funding shrinking, how can South Carolina keep tuition low and encourage increased academic quality?

BAUER: South Carolina should cut out almost all capital spending at colleges and universities and focus on spending for teachers and educational programs.

FORD: He touted his plan for increasing state funding of higher education through increased gambling.

HALEY: The state can save money by getting rid of every college board of trustees and placing every school under the Commission of Higher Education. Under the commission, all of the colleges and universities should be measured by uniform accountability standards. Schools will then be funded based on their academic performance.

McMASTER: The Commission on Higher Education should be strengthened to improve coordination.

REX: The long-term answer is comprehensive tax reform. Short-term, the answer is to raise the cigarette tax to the national average.

SHEHEEN: When the economy and state revenues improve, South Carolina should commit to increasing state funding on higher education by 1 percentage point a year until it reaches the Southeastern average for funding of higher education.

Does South Carolina have too many colleges and universities?

BAUER: No. When he represented a small, rural county in the state Senate, he saw the value of having a college in the community for local residents.

FORD: No. South Carolina is on the move. It needs more higher education institutions.

HALEY: The state needs education in rural communities. But not all communities need a university. The state needs to place more technical schools and community colleges in rural communities.

McMASTER: No. Higher educational institutions are an asset. The state needs better coordination and strategic planning

REX: No. The state must ramp up its system of higher education because South Carolina will need more college graduates. South Carolina needs all of its colleges and universities to be as effective and efficient as possible.

SHEHEEN: No. South Carolina colleges and universities need accessibility and affordability. Communities across the state need higher education institutions.