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Friday letters: Debates should be on free TV

Like millions of other Americans, I don’t have cable, and thus have been unable to watch the presidential candidate debates on TV. After half an hour of futilely fiddling around on the Internet, I was finally able to find the candidates’ voices on an AM radio station.  Why aren’t all the debates on public television and public radio? I don’t understand how a presidential debate can be treated like a football game, i.e., a money-making opportunity for corporate media outlets. Does democracy in America extend only to cable subscribers?

Hugh Iglarsh, Skokie

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Remember tax hikes next Election Day

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s proposed tax increases for entertainment, added to tax increases Mayor Rahm Emanuel has proposed, should be remembered by the voters come election time. Bleeding the citizens time and again for every nickel and dime to fix problems that should be addressed by prudent management is appalling.  While I did not vote for Bruce Rauner for governor, I understand his position on the current state of the Illinois political bureaucracy.

Mike Koskiewicz, Portage Park

Wi-fi on the L a danger

The CTA tells people not to have their phones and other devices in view on subways, etc because of theft. I really think putting 4G wireless service on the subways flies in the face of those warnings. Waste of money and it endangers passengers.

Margaret Hall, Grand Boulevard

Public college funding crucial to Illinois

As Illinois state government struggles with the problems caused by its fiscal condition, many competing priorities emphasize the consequences of policy decisions.  Public higher education has become a required strategic asset in the world.  It is often characterized as being preparation for the future; however, it has also taken a role of critical importance in the present.  It has become a societal priority for competitiveness.

• Critical programs are medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, veterinary medicine, law, education, agricultural and consumer sciences.  Those missions are regional and statewide economic engines, generating total employment of 61,000 and annual total spending of $6.9 billion. Using a modest 4 to 1 multiplier, this spending generates an estimated $28 billion in economic impact and development in the State of Illinois.

• For each dollar in direct state appropriations public universities receive, the universities leverage four dollars in non-state funding. This includes the more than $1.5 billion in research grants and out-of-state tuition dollars that the universities bring to the Illinois economy.

• Even with drastic cuts to essential instructional, student service, and financial aid programs, universities will be pressed into deficit spending. Permanent cuts will result in shortages in instruction, teaching staff, student services, and financial aid that will diminish the universities’ ability to expand enrollments. In a vicious cycle, each cut will impede measures designed to produce enrollment growth and financial improvement.  The result will be a further erosion in the economic foundation of Illinois, undermining the tax base of the state, and leading to further reduction in the ability of the state to meet its societal needs.

In order to address our needs, Illinois must invest more in economic development in order to generate the required revenue to meet social program costs.  Public higher education is an asset that needs to be supported.

Chuck French, Western Springs