Taxpayer-Funded Lobbying at Pitt
A reader shared the letter below from the University of Pittsburgh. It urges all parents and students to contact their state legislators and protest higher education cuts in the proposed state budget.
This is another example of taxpayer-funded lobbying, where special interests use tax dollars to lobby for more tax dollars. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the urgent tone spattered with exclamation points attempts to scare parents and students into action by providing a wealth of misleading or irrelevant information. For instance, the letter states the cuts to Pitt in Corbett’s original proposal would total over $104 million. While that sounds like a lot of money. it is only 5 percent of the university’s operating budget. That’s peanuts compared to what Pennsylvania families cut during the recession.
Another misnomer is the statement, “Ultimately, though, it becomes impossible for any university to charge like a public university if it is not funded like a public university.”
Yet Pitt charges more than private schools like Grove City College and for-profit schools like University of Phoenix (Pittsburgh Campus). On average these schools receive more than $1,000 less per full-time equivalent student in tuition and fees than Pitt. Why should we be subsidizing public universities when private schools in the same region are educating students for less?
Perhaps the highlight of the letter is the Freudian slip contained in the fifth paragraph, “The University of Pittsburgh will continue, as has been its practice, to evaluate all areas of its expenditures to minimize savings.”
The letter concludes, “Some substantial restoration of state funding, then, is essential to maintaining what we have come to know as the public university model in Pennsylvania.” Now consider that the University of Pittsburgh received about $1.7 billion in direct taxpayer subsidies over the last ten years, while more than doubling tuition to $14,936. Penn State, also a public university, has one of highest in-state tuitions of any state school in the country. Perhaps deviating from the public university model wouldn’t be such a bad thing after all.