Though under attack on the Republican campaign trail, President Obama urged the nation's governors on Monday to invest more in education, including for colleges, despite tight state budgets.
"Too many states are making cuts to education that I believe are simply too big," Obama told the National Governor's Association.
He urged the governors to focus on hiring teachers and investing in higher education, both four-year colleges and community colleges. He noted that 40 states have cut funding for higher education over the past year, and that state budget cuts have been a factor behind rising tuition rates at public universities.
"I believe that education is an issue that's best addressed at the state level, and governors are in the best position to have the biggest impact," Obama said.
Obama spoke after Republican rival Rick Santorum, a former senator from Pennsylvania, criticized the administration’s push for more higher education. At a campaign event on Saturday, Santorum called Obama a “snob” for working to increase college attendance and access.
“We can’t allow higher education to be a luxury in this country,” Obama said. “It’s an economic imperative that every family has to be able to afford. And, frankly, I don't think any of this should be a partisan issue. All of us should be about giving every American who wants a chance to succeed that chance.”
Economic growth in the future will depend on education investment now, Obama added. "The jobs of the future are increasing going to those with more than a high school degree."