Senate hopeful assures funding

Mark Bennett

U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Daniel Mongiardo called Northern Kentucky University’s treatment as a second-tier university “unfortunate.”

During a speech at the University Center Sept. 15, Mongiardo said NKU “needs to be funded on par with all universities.”

Mongiardo said he understands the need and value of a quality education because he was the first member of his family to attend college.

He is proposing a first-of-its-type scholarship that would present $1,000 in Pell Grant funds to first-generation college students. Mongiardo wants to increase Pell Grants for other students as well.

“In the 1970s, a Pell Grant covered 84 percent of the cost of college,” he said. “Today that buying power is down to 40 percent, and that’s just unacceptable.”

Mongiardo is also proposing a $12,000 tax credit for middle-class families. According to Mongiardo, 4,200 Kentucky students were unable to afford college tuition last year.

“No one should be barred from going to college because of their socioeconomic status,” he said. “The opportunity for tomorrow’s students should never be limited to a privileged few.

“We’ve got to always make sure that everybody that is capable of going to college has the capability to go to college.”

Jeremy Mann, president of the NKU College Democrats, said Mongiardo “hit the nail on the head” when he stated that tuition continues to increase yet little is being done about it.

“Mongiardo understands the under-funding problem,” Mann said. “Getting funding for NKU is a big priority of his. He wants the situation rectified.”

Mongiardo, a two-term state senator and surgeon from Hazard, shares the Nov. 2 ballot with Republican incumbent Sen. Jim Bunning.

In the past few months, Bunning has declined to have a public debate with Mongiardo seven times.

“The very heart of democracy is our ability to vote for our leaders,” Mongiardo said, “and the best way to vote for the right leader is by being informed where each person stands on the issues.

“I think the people of Kentucky deserve to be informed, they deserve to see a debate and… I think this is really going to hurt Senator Bunning. It shows that he has a lack of courage to stand up for the people of Kentucky and he’s running from his issues. He’s running from his record, but he can’t hide from the people of Kentucky.”

Derrick Reeder, president of the NKU College Republicans, said Mongiardo is running from his own record.

“He refused to vote on the state budget plan that would have brought in a $47 million special events center,” Reeder said.

“When he feels our pain about funding while not voting for an NKU friendly budget, he commits legislative malpractice.”

Reeder added that Mongiardo “is not interested in having a debate, he is interested in being able to say that the senator will not debate him.”

Mann believes the Bunning campaign is showing little effort. “If there is no debate, then how do we know where he stands?” Mann said.

“There’s no direction from that campaign at all, and no direction is the wrong direction.”

One of the issues Mongiardo would like to debate is healthcare. As a doctor, Mongiardo said he believes healthcare is too expensive, covers too few people and is declining in quality.

Mann said the candidate’s views on healthcare will play a big role in the election. He said healthcare’s importance to the citizens of Kentucky is shown by the recent talks about teachers going on strike due to increased health insurance costs.

Mongiardo also proposed to modernize Kentucky’s health information exchange system from paper-based to computer-based, which he said would bring in high-tech and high paying jobs.

“If we have the proper education, we’ll be able to fill those jobs,” Mongiardo said. “With that revenue going to the state, we’ll be able to put that back into education so that we can keep our tuition costs down.”