Monday, August 24, 2009
Kenley Plays "Do This or the Bunny Gets It" with IU and Purdue
On South Park, Ms. Crabtree, the crazy, stressed out, school bus driver, gets results from her students by threatening harm to a cute rabbit if they are not quiet or do not do what she tells them to do.
The Indiana Senate's version of Ms. Crabtree, Luke Kenley is holding IU’s and Purdue’s proposed construction projects up by the ears until they reduce tuition. Kenley’s plan to potentially hold up construction funds from the state budget is described in yesterday’s Indianapolis Star, and it underlines the disconnect state legislators like Kenley (mostly in the GOP) have with the reality of providing quality public education and how that relates to the funding of that education by the state.
Indiana sits on a $1 billion surplus while starving out public education. One of the ways that higher education institutions remedy budget shortfalls is tuition increases. Kenley feels like the folks at IU and Purdue went to far in raising their tuition so much in the tough economy.
Both IU and Purdue are relatively good buys when it comes to education. I got a lot for my money (and I’m still paying for it) at Indiana. If I could go back and do my four years all over again at IU, I probably would do it again today. It was an enjoyable time, and I feel like every penny was well spent.
College is expensive; there is no doubt, but there are a number of grants, scholarships, assistance programs, and loans out there to help any student that wishes to go and qualifies to go to attend the college they want. Enrollment equals money in the higher education world, so I'm sure that IU and Purdue don't want to price folks out of higher education. I'm sure the folks in Bloomington and West Lafayette weren't just sitting around one day and hatched this plan. There is an apparent need.
IU and Purdue are experiencing the same problem Indiana’s public school districts are, a shrinking bottom line in the form of state funding. Indiana and Purdue, as well as other state-run universities such as Indiana State and Ball State are given the ability to raise and lower tuition. IU raised it 4.6 percent and Purdue went up five percent. Hardly a huge jump when the national average runs at about a 4.4 percent increase. The bad news is that it's not getting any better anytime soon given the state's position financially.
In the balance, according to the Star, is nearly $53 million in construction work. $53 million in construction jobs for potentially skilled union workers in the various construction fields. Some of the projects would seem to benefit the state directly not only in reducing unemployment but in other ways. Purdue specifically wants to utilize over $23 million to build an alternative fuel research lab, according to the Star.
In the end, former Republican legislator Teresa Lubbers may hold the key as a major negotiator and mediator between the Noblesville Republican, Kenley, and the university interests. Even Governor Daniels, who defends Kenley's actions, told the Star that universities are facing difficult times financially. Stay tuned!
Until then, "Ms. Crabtree" Kenley will keep driving the bus and threatening the cute bunny until the universities comply. "SIT DOWN KIDS!"
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