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School officials pitch programs to budget writers

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 HELENA, Mont. (AP) -- Higher education officials presenting their programs to
 legislative budget writers say a two-year freeze on tuition is their top priority.
   Montana Commissioner of Higher Education Clayton Christian says the state
university system is leading higher education institutions in the West in keeping
costs down. He says to keep doing so, the university system needs help from
lawmakers.
   Yellowstone Public Radio reports that Christian spoke Tuesday before the Joint
 Appropriations Subcommittee on Education.
   Christian says for every dollar the state invests in higher education, it gets
 back $3 in tax revenues. He says the university system is graduating more health
care professionals who have an average annual salary of $40,000.
   University officials also plan to speak about natural resources, energy, arts,
culture and agriculture as their budget presentation continues through Thursday.

   AP-WF-01-22-13 2347GMT


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