The College Money Game
Look, higher education is important to the state of Rhode Island, and it would be even more so if the state were institutionally capable of creating an environment that created jobs that would attract our highly educated temporary visitors to stay in the state. But colleges and universities should start considering how their mixed message comes across to the folks struggling to make ends meet. Consider:
There are 2,400 Rhode Islanders who planned on attending the Community College of Rhode Island this fall but never enrolled because they couldn’t come up with the tuition.
The University of Rhode Island may also be in danger of becoming too expensive for out-of-state students when they compare its cost with similar institutions elsewhere, according to Ray M. DiPasquale, the state commissioner of higher education.
For the cost of two or three visits a year to Dunkin’ Donuts, about $9 for every Rhode Island taxpayer, the University of Rhode Island could build a critically needed chemistry building, President David M. Dooley said Monday.
And for another $2.52 a year, Rhode Island College could have a new arts facility to replace a 52-year-old building that has outlived its usefulness and has several fire code violations.
The leaders of post-secondary education in the state want our money-strapped government to up its contribution to their cause and are asking taxpayers to take out loans on their behalf on top of it. Yet, there’s apparently money to add and accelerate new staffing positions for the cause of diversity.
This is the same game that governments play when they ensure that slush funds and wasteful programs persist while roads crumble. Expecting those expenditures that are clearly worthwhile investments to stand on their own, the people controlling the check book spend the funds already invested in them on items for which few taxpayers would agree to pay were they given the option. (To that, we could add the deal that university and college faculty and staff get.)
Sorry, but Rhode Island needs to allocate every penny possible to reducing taxes, eliminating mandates, and slashing regulations. If the spokespeople for the college crowd want a greater portion of the pie — and state-to-state comparisons suggest that they have a strong case — then they should add their voices to those calling for reform of our corrupt and wasteful system.