Some of the biggest losers in yesterday’s state House budget proposal are our state’s public colleges and universities… or I guess, more accurately, their current and future students.
The House would slash another $482 million from higher education spending, $100 million more than the governor’s already brutal proposal, amounting to a more than 50 percent cut over two biennia. Even after tuition hikes of between 11.5 and 13 percent, our two-year and four-year institutions would still have to cut as much as 5.4 percent from their budgets. Students will be paying more and getting less.
As a percentage of our state economy, higher education spending had already dropped 63.7 percent from a high of $15.53 per $1,000 of personal income in 1974 to $5.48 per $1,000 in 2010. And falling. Dollars speak louder than words, and clearly, as a state, we obviously no longer believe that providing affordable access to a quality college education is all that important anymore.
Although, to be fair, as sad and scary as this is (especially as someone who’s partner is employed by a state university — and, for that matter, I am too, at least for this quarter), thanks to the stupid voters (and the even stupider eligible voters who decline to do so) who refuse to pay an extra penny or two on candy bars and soda because of the big scary three-letter-word “TAX” (and that’s just one example of the stupid, greedy, short-sighted results of recent state votes), the state just doesn’t have as much money as it should. The way things have been going, I’m still not convinced that education would be getting funded as it should even if the state was flush with cash…but I do realize that the current budget crunch isn’t helping matters any.
When will people wake up and realize that education is important, public services are important, and we have to pay for them? The money to run these things doesn’t just magically appear. I don’t particularly care if you whine about paying taxes, really — sure, we all would like to have a little more money in our pockets than we do. But when your distaste becomes outright refusal (through ill-conceived ballot initiatives) to pay into the services that support and benefit everyone in this state, in both the short- and long-term, then I have no use for you — especially when you then turn around and bitch and moan that this country isn’t as great as it could be, should be, or used to be. Your greed is a large part of the reason for that.