Tom Herger should be ashamed of himself for his recent letter that the St. Cloud Times published. In his letter, Herger wrote “A decade of declining state investment in the state’s colleges and universities has led to deep cuts across the system, and we need Sen. Jerry Relph, Rep. Jim Knoblach and legislative Republican majorities to work with the governor to increase funding for state colleges and universities back to historical levels.”
Later, Herger wrote “Up to 13 years ago, the Legislature continually funded two-thirds of the cost of instruction at public universities and colleges. Students and their families were responsible for the remaining third. This provided an accessible stepping-stone to the middle class for all Minnesotans. But as funding for public higher education was cut continually from 2002-2013, that important step became out of reach for too many middle-class families. By 2013, students in Minnesota were responsible for two-thirds of the cost of their education.”
While it’s true higher education funding has decreased in some years, it isn’t accurate to say that funding was cut. It’s that spending by virtually unaccountable administrators increased exponentially. It’s that enrollment revenues have shrunk mightily, too. (At SCSU, this includes shrinking dorm rent revenues, too, and expensive outlays for Coborn’s Plaza.)
Finally, there’s this:
A state’s budget is a real-world reflection of a state’s priorities, it’s as simple as that. We need the budget to reflect the priority that we, as a state, have always placed on higher education.
A university’s budget reflects its priorities, too. SCSU wants to spend more money on rebranding. The last time they did that was 5 years ago. They spent north of $400,000 on that. After rebranding, enrollment kept declining.
The truth is that SCSU and MnSCU have been badly mismanaged. Nowhere in Herger’s letter does he talk about improving leadership. He just talked about throwing more money at failing institutions. If you don’t fix the root cause, the problem will never get solved.