“No policy question is ever as simple as ‘How can we stop X’, unless ‘X’ is an imminent Nazi invasion. We also have to ask ‘at what cost?’ and ‘by what right?'” –Megan McArdle in The Atlantic magazine’s “Do We Need Even Tighter Controls on Sudafed?”
Tom Schrodt, professor emeritus of chemical engineering at the University of Kentucky, offers some fact-driven analysis on why the University of Pikeville should not be added to the state’s higher-education system.
Schrodt takes a look back at what happened when the University of Louisville was added to the state system in the 1960s and how supporters’ proposal to use severance taxes from Kentucky’s coal industry is an ill-advised approach for a couple of reasons: (1) the increase of cheaper clean-burning natural gas could diminish the actual amount of revenue produced by these taxes and (2) the money would be “unavailable for other uses.”
Severance tax dollars are used for badly needed water, sewer and other infrastructure projects. Schrodt is right when he says those dollars should not be used to add a further burden to state taxpayers while also likely driving up tuition for Kentucky’s college students.
“If the University of Pikeville is added to the state system, we can be assured its budget, like those of all universities, will grow and recur,” Schrodt wrote. “There will be no turning back and Frankfort will be looking for more tax money to support it.”
Blogger Tom Bartlett of The Chronicle of Higher Education cited Bluegrass Institute education scholar Dick Innes’ research on raising the high school dropout age to 18.
Tune in to Kentucky Educational Television on Monday night as Bluegrass Institute education analyst Richard Innes makes his statewide “Kentucky Tonight” debut live at 8 p.m. (eastern).
Monday’s show features a debate about whether politicians should force the commonwealth’s high-schoolers to remain in school until age 18.
Moreover, his estimate does not include potentially very large additional costs of facilities expansions and the costs of adding more teachers into state-funded health care and retirement systems. More facilities and teachers will be needed to serve the additional thousands of students forced to remain in seats in Kentucky’s public schools.
Another bill, Senate Bill 109 would leave dropout-age decisions up to local boards of education but could eventually result in similar, very high added costs.
A key issue is that raising the dropout age minimum to 18 has not worked in many states that have extended experience with this policy, as we have blogged about in the past.
Joining Innes on the program will be Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday, state Rep. Jeff Greer, D-Brandenburg, and Sen. David Givens, R-Greensburg.
The Emmy Award-winning public affairs show is hosted by Bill Goodman. It is repeated on Mondays at midnight, Tuesdays at 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. and Wednesdays at 2 a.m. and 5 a.m.
Economist Brian Strow stresses the need for state pension reform in the Bowling Green Daily News:
A growing number of states have recently engaged in public pension reform, and rightfully so.
Unfunded state pension liabilities have been an albatross around the necks of more than one state balance sheet. Illinois, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Connecticut and Rhode Island have all implemented recent pension reforms to reduce unfunded liability. These include both Republican- and Democratic-run state legislatures. The Democratic governors of New York and California have each submitted plans to revamp their states’ public pension plans. Thinking Republicans and Democrats alike realize that public pension reform is not a conservative or a liberal cause. They realize it is about the math. States cannot make promises to public employees which exceed their ability to pay for them.
It is time for Kentucky’s state legislature and governor to engage in public pension reform here. The $30 billion plus hole in the state’s pension system isn’t going away. Rather, like an untended sinkhole, it is quickly expanding. Each year, Kentucky’s pensions are adding hundreds of millions of dollars in unfunded liability. Left unchecked, Kentucky’s unfunded pension liability is going to cripple the entire state’s economy.
The bandwagon of state pension reform is one worth jumping on. Failure to do so illustrates a fundamental misunderstanding of math. Such a misunderstanding will only get worse when our school budgets are cut to feed the pension monster the state legislature has created. Failure to reform our state pension system will cause our state to face yet another credit rating downgrade and drive us one step further to insolvency.
Read Lowell Reese’s devastating Bluegrass Institute report on Kentucky’s pension system here.