News From Terre Haute, Indiana

News Columns

September 11, 2011

MAUREEN HAYDEN: State Budget Committee thumps public university chiefs

To get an inkling of why the State Budget Committee is so honked off at the public university chiefs over rising college costs, it helps to know how contentious some of their conversations have been.

At a committee hearing last week in which university officials tried to justify tuition rates that have doubled over a decade (and grown by 1,000 percent since 1974), several university presidents came off as clueless.

One said she thought the average graduate was getting a bargain for leaving her college with only $21,000 in student loan debt.

Another tried to stump lawmakers with charts and figures that made it look, at first glance, like his university had made real progress in cutting costs. It only took a second glance to figure out the charts were visually misleading and the real numbers were much less impressive.

The university heads took a thumping but should have known it was coming. They’d been warned not to raise rates over the amount recommended by the state’s Commission on Higher Education.

Most did it anyway, continuing on a bender of tuition hikes and mandatory fees that far outpace inflation and the growth in Hoosier incomes.

So why doesn’t the legislature just make them stop?

In the last session, when Statehouse Republicans decided to reform the ways of the K-12 schools, they pushed through major legislation that shifted much control to the state and away from local school officials.

They could do it because they controlled the money. Three years ago, when the legislature pushed through tax reforms, local property tax revenues — over which school boards had much control — were eliminated from education funding and replaced with revenue from the state’s sales tax.

That switch put nearly 100 percent of K-12 education funding in the hands of the state. With money comes control.

That’s not so when it comes to higher education. While the legislature doles out billions in state dollars to the public universities, those dollars make up only a fraction of the universities’ total operating revenues.

State dollars make up less than 19 percent of Indiana University’s total institutional operating revenues and less than 18 percent for Purdue University. For Indiana State University, it’s 37 percent; 34 percent for University of Southern Indiana; 32 percent for Ball State University; 29 percent for Vincennes University; and 27 percent for Ivy Tech Community College.

The rest of the revenues come from a variety of other public and private dollars — including the pockets of parents (me, included) feeling the painful pinch of rising college costs.

That doesn’t mean the legislature has no control; it just means it doesn’t have as much control as some would like.

Don’t expect the issue to go away. Rep. Jeff Espich, a Uniondale Republican and the influential chairman of the State Budget Committee, seems committed to getting the universities’ attention. At last week’s hearing, he said tuition hikes that were outpacing Hoosier incomes had created a “crisis.”

“I’ve never boiled lobsters, but I feel like my constituents are like lobsters in a boiling pot of hot water,” Espich said. “They’re squealing because of the fact they’re having a tough time sending their kids to college.”

Maureen Hayden is Statehouse bureau chief for CNHI Indiana newspapers. She can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
News Columns
Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Raw: Obamas Attend Easter Service Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Easter Morning Delivery for Space Station Raw: Crowds Rally at '420' Celebration in Denver Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico New York Auto Show Highlights Latest in Car Tech Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Ferry Captain Received Medical Treatment Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy New York Auto Show Highlights Latest in Car Tech Marathoners Celebrate Easter With Tradition Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus
NDN Video
Teen hitchhikes in wheel well of flight from California to Hawaii Celebs Share Their Easter Fun At Boston Marathon, a Chance to Finally Finish Hundreds Gather for Denver Pot Rally on Easter Dr. Phil Put In The Hot Seat By His Own Wife Jabari Parker's Top 5 Plays From Duke Career Kourtney Kardashian Is a Bikini Babe More Manpower Than Ever Expected At 4/20 Rally Debunk'd: Miley Cyrus AIDS, Cheeseburgers Cause Cancer, Military Warning Bill Previewing the NBA playoffs Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite My name is Cocaine Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Lohan Gets Candid About Her Sex List The 2014 New York Auto Show Meet Johnny Manziel's New Girlfriend Chelsea Clinton Announces Pregnancy Funny: Celebrating Easter with Martha Stewart and Friends Man Accuses 'X-Men' Director Bryan Singer of Sexually Abusing Him As a Teenager Man hit with $525 federal fine after he doesn't pay for soda refill
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -

     

    March 12, 2010

activity