In today’s N&O, a WCU political science professor laments recent state budget actions and claims that the state constitution’s commitment to supporting public universities is in jeopardy.
Recent and proposed cuts to the UNC system raise questions about whether our leaders are adhering to this provision.
While there is no question that there will be cuts, how far can we cut education before we run afoul of our constitutional responsibility? What was built on many years of taxpayer sacrifice is not being “maintained” – and at a critical time of high enrollment growth.
As with most hyperbolic budget claims coming from the left, a little perspective is in order. Just how far has the state “cut education” within the last decade? From FY 2001-02 to the FY 2009-10 budget, the direct appropriation to the UNC system swelled by 67%. In other words, the UNC subsidy increased by two thirds in less than a decade. And the “high enrollment growth”? According to UNC stats, enrollment in the UNC system increased by 31% from fall 2001 to fall 2009 (latest data available), well under half the rate of funding increase. And that doesn’t even count the increase in scholarship money the state finances for college students (which by the way, inflates demand and helps drive up tuition).
The professor’s claims don’t pass the laugh test when compared with the facts. It is especially difficult to take seriously in light of recent audits and research showing dramatic waste and bureaucratic bloat in the UNC system and the proliferation of highly redundant and unneccessary programs and research centers.
This professor’s concern is not with a commitment to education, but rather a commitment to the status quo and unrestrained bureacracratic growth.