THEIR OPINION: Vote for higher education budget cut ridiculous
FARGO One description of legislators who voted Wednesday to cut North Dakota's higher education budget is "boneheads." That's a tad too harsh, but only a tad. The House voted 64-29 (one absent) to make draconian cuts in higher education. The 64 w...
One description of legislators who voted Wednesday to cut North Dakota's higher education budget is "boneheads." That's a tad too harsh, but only a tad.
The House voted 64-29 (one absent) to make draconian cuts in higher education. The 64 who voted against the state's future might not be boneheads, but they can be characterized as enemies of higher education, even if they don't see themselves that way.
The cuts make no sense, especially at a time when North Dakota has money to do the catch-up investments higher ed requires. Also, North Dakota has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pump up and promote its excellent university system, while other states are either struggling to run in place or are going backward. North Dakota's universities and colleges should be able to demonstrate that they are not only world-class institutions but they also are well-funded.
Apparently a majority of the North Dakota House is unable to make the relatively simple calculation that adequate funding for the schools equals better faculty, more student opportunities and more research dollars that stimulate the regional economy. Their action suggests an appalling lack of vision, to say nothing of common sense.
The cuts include:
Removing $6.6 million intended to limit tuition increases. So the House majority seems intent on punishing students - making them pay more - when state appropriations should be applied to keeping tuitions down.
Removing $10 million in equity funding. This cut hurts North Dakota State University in particular. It's a foolishly punitive stunt that appears to be meant only to punish NDSU for perceived past missteps. It's the work of small minds.
Removing $5 million in the governor's budget that would be allocated based on measures of campus performance, such as graduation rates. If lawmakers are really interested in accountability, the governor's incentive is an excellent means to assess accountability. The cut suggests they are all talk and no serious action.
Removing $8 million for a science center at Valley City State University and a library at Dickinson State University, which are in the governor's budget. Another curious cut. Both facilities have been in the planning stages for years. The need has been demonstrated. Yet, now that the state can afford the science center and library, the House majority balks. Not smart.
It's hard to grasp what the anti-education House members were thinking. Oops, wrong word. The vote shows not much thinking was going on.
Here are the Cass County/Fargo/West Fargo House members who voted against NDSU and higher education: Wes Belter, Randy Boehning, Al Carlson, Don Clark, Bette Grande, Jim Kasper, Kim Koppelman, Blair Thoreson and Al Wieland. All are Republicans.
The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and the Herald are Forum Communications Co. newspapers.