Rep. Larry Hosch, DFL-HD14B, has written an LTE putting the blame for the high price of a college education on the GOP legislature rather than criticizing the real culprits. The culprits are the MnSCU administrators and the college presidents and provosts who don’t shut down degree programs that don’t prepare students for productive careers in the private sectors. Here’s what Rep. Hosch said:
The budget agreement Republicans insisted on during our government shutdown levied huge cuts on Minnesota students. Their plan hit MnSCU campuses with a historic cut, scaling back funding to 1999 levels. That means our colleges and universities are being asked to serve 40,000 more students with the same funding that they got in 1999.
What this really says is that there are alot more students in degree programs that shouldn’t be part of any community college or state university. What this says is that alot of money could be saved by eliminating programs like the Social Responsibility Masters Degree program at St. Cloud State or the Ecotourism AAS degree offered at Central Lakes Community College in Brainerd.
Eliminating the Social Responsibility Masters Degree program would save St. Cloud State $1,218,000 in salaries alone.
That’s before questioning whether there’s a genuine need for multiple campuses at most of the community colleges or whether there’s a need for the teaching staff and administrative staff. That’s before questioning the justification of universities hiring lobbyists on the public’s dime. Why should taxpayers pay for lobbyists so they can tell legislators that they need more of the taxpayers’ money?
That’s before answering the question of whether MnSCU serves a useful purpose anymore. The chancellor gets paid $360,000 in salary per year. James McCormick, the man who just retired as chancellor, received a $50,000 bonus…after he retired.
Still, Rep. Hosch would have us believe that Republicans are to blame for higher ed’s problems. Republicans aren’t to blame. MnSCU’s decisionmaking has cost Minnesota’s taxpayers millions of dollars.
For decades Minnesota has been an economic leader in part because our students received a great higher education. Our best and brightest used their Minnesota degrees to get Minnesota jobs that drove our economy. That is a big reason why Minnesota has more Fortune 500 companies per capita than any state in the country.
Rep. Hosch’s comparison to the 60’s and 70’s doesn’t fit. Back then, higher education money was spent mostly on things that trained students for careers in engineering, medical research, technology, architecture and other highly needed scientific disciplines.
Those programs still exist. Unfortunately, they’ve been supplemented with programs that don’t prepare students for gainful employment in the private sector.
It’s real simple. If you invest in sciences, math, history and other programs of rigor, the state is rewarded. If the money is spent on junk like Ecotourism and Social Responsibility, taxpayers will get ripped off.
This paragraph is especially irritating to taxpayers:
The good news is we can make better choices. Area legislators insisted on a budget that did not ask the very wealthiest special interests to contribute a penny to our budget solution. Instead they gave our students a bill. This is neither fair nor wise. We need a balanced path forward that recognizes higher education in an economic priority for Minnesota students, families and our future.
What’s aggravating is that the DFL insists that higher education shouldn’t be accountable for their foolish decisionmaking. The days of writing higher education checks, then letting them do whatever they want with that money are over. This winter, the DFL will have a choice to make. They can either fight for the status quo or they can resist Republicans’ attempts to make universities more accountable.
The DFL better choose wisely. Minnesota is watching.