Higher-ed Spending Surely Pays Dividends
Source: Fort Myers News
If ever there was a public policy fiscal dilemma, it is in the here and now involving higher education in Florida.
A downward sliding economy, brought on by the bursting real estate bubble, is threatening to cut the state's tax revenues well below the comfort level for the people who are charged with bringing the taxpayers the governmental services they have come to expect.
So cuts are in order, and with that we have no argument. Clearly, there are economies to be made, services to be examined and hard decisions to be made.
But, curiously, Gov. Charlie Crist has turned aside any talk of tuition increases, even though Florida tuitions are well below national norms, and is now proposing penetrating cuts in the level of public spending on our colleges and universities.
"It seems we have a governor who wants to protect K-12, but is willing to throw higher education under the bus," said Florida Chancellor of Higher Education Mark Rosenberg.
Indeed, Crist has proposed $272 million in proposed higher education cuts, double the rate of the rest of the budget. It is seriously concerning.
As the Southwest Floridians point with pride to the glowing and growing successes of Edison College and Florida Gulf Coast University, we ought to realize how much institutions of higher learning add to our community. They give us economic, cultural and intellectual underpinnings, are magnets for both those who would learn and those who would seek to further their futures and fortunes, are the glue that holds young people close to home in the years when they are wont to wander, and raise the level of expectations of us all.
Even though the economists will measure the worth of educational institutions in lofty numbers, their value reaches beyond even what they can calculate and we can imagine.
Higher education, in short, gives us a future.
Legislative action and political opportunism that rob us of that future are a crime against our very society. We must find ways to pay for higher education, combining the use of both public monies and reasonable tuitions. Or suffer mightily.