The Higher Ed “shell game”

C.B. Forgotston
December 10, 2010 at 9:16 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Merely saying one is “against taxes” (Bobby Jindal and most leges) yet failing to push the restructuring/down-sizing of government to a level at which the working people (vast majority) and the economy of our state can afford to sustain is not being a “conservative” in my book.

Recently, higher education has become the “stalking horse” for higher taxes in Louisiana.


History indicates the more college tuition is raised the fewer existing state dollars will flow into higher education.  The existing state dollars supplanted by increased tuition are used to fund lesser priorities in the state budget.

 

Case in point


For years I’ve said: “Education is the number one priority in Louisiana - - right after everything else.”    Here’s the evidence:


In February of this year, Bobby Jindal presented to the lege the state operating budget for the current fiscal year. The total was $24.2 billion. The budget contained no additional cuts to higher education.


When the leges finished going over the state budget, by June, it had ballooned-up to $26.9 billion; plus it contained significant cuts to higher education.


In other words, the leges added $2.7 billion to the budget but reduced funding to higher education.  The result of the cuts to higher ed, intended or unintended, was to force the colleges to impose higher tuition and fee costs via the authority given (LA Grad Act) them by Jindal and the leges.

 

Stelly Tax the answer?


Many believe re-instating the Stelly Tax (increase in state personal income tax) is the answer to higher education’s fiscal problems.  To those I ask: What is to keep the leges from re-imposing the $300 million Stelly Tax and still reducing higher education funding by a like amount?


There is nothing, legally, to stop them from doing exactly what I suggest and that which they have already done.


“Shell game”


The governor and the leges have found a clever way to avoid voting directly for higher taxes. The leges’ constitutional taxing authority has been delegated to the multiple boards of higher education which in some instances have delegated it to the students to self-impose fees on themselves merely to maintain the status quo.


While they should be intelligent and educated enough to understand how they are being used, don’t expect the highly-paid executives whose job it is to oversee higher education to buck this trend.  Doing so would be tantamount to admitting that they haven’t done their jobs properly and likely can’t.


The higher ed execs are the problem, not the solution.


One wonders if the college students and their parents who pay tuition understand how this “shell game” is being played.


Bottom-line: Would you hire a manager for your business that every time your profits dropped suggested the solution was to increase prices?




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