I see that right now, our legislators are once again debating cuts to the generous subsidies our public universities receive from taxpayers. Some are claiming that if the cuts pass, students and parents will be soaked with higher tuition. You’ll recognize this argument, as it dominated the headlines after Gov. Tom Corbett’s budget address in March and then faded as the facts about our public universities’ waste came out. The best example of this is Penn State, whose president went in less than two months from channeling Abraham Lincoln from beyond the grave to promising to freeze salaries and dip into reserves to keep tuition down.
Legislators, don’t be fooled: The choice isn’t between higher subsidies and higher tuition. These institutions have raised tuition even as you’ve increased their appropriations, and Penn State’s recent actions show that when they want to control tuition, they can and they will. They’ve got tons of fat to trim—particularly when it comes to administrative spending and buildings they admit they are utilizing poorly—and now’s your chance to help them slim down. That is the way to help students and parents, not to mention taxpayers.