Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Other Governors, including anti-tax conservatives, are increasing higher ed funding

Nevada’s budget crisis and its impact on Higher Education is, of course, part of a national recession which has brought severe budget shortfalls to many states. Indeed, Nevada was not alone in substituting substantial federal stimulus dollars for state dollars in 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 (Colorado, Arizona, and Missouri have been as dependent on ARRA federal allocations).

Yet, as the Chronicle of Higher Education reported on January 24, not all states are responding in 2011 to the continuing recession and loss of federal stimulus support by cutting public support for higher education.

Indeed, eighteen states have increased state support for higher education since 2009. Notably, many of these states are low-tax states currently governed by conservative republican governors and/or legislatures.

Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell, elected on a no-new-taxes platform in 2009, has proposed an increase of $50 million in state support to prevent tuition increases and help increase the state’s rate of college attendance in the longer term. Another conservative republican elected in 2009, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, while developing a reputation for steep cuts to his state’s K-12 education budget, has also stated support for increased funding in higher education in the long term.

Last year, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, also known as a national leader in the anti-tax movement, held higher education harmless in his 2010 budget as a necessary component of economic development in his state.

Elected in 2010, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, among the most conservative Republicans in the US Senate earlier in this decade, has proposed an additional $100 million in state support over three years to enhance research and teaching as part of a plan to promote economic development and high-paying jobs for his state in engineering, bio-medical and aviation fields.

Nevadans concerned with budget cutting and who may oppose taxes ought to consider that their colleagues and fellows in other states are planning to bring economic development and prosperity by prioritizing investment in higher education. We ignore this trend at our peril.

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