Since early this year, we have heard how an increase in the state tax on cigarettes would fill in revenue gaps in K-12 education and healthcare while simultaneously saving lives by creating thousands of ex-smokers.
Today, the Lexington Herald Leader adds salvation for state colleges and universities to that already unrealistic laundry list:
“The Republican-controlled Senate this election year voted for cheap cigarettes over affordable higher education when it rejected a House-passed increase in Kentucky’s cigarette tax, one of the nation’s lowest.”
But they didn’t stop there.
Then the editorial steps into the wrong side of another debate that was long ago settled by reality. Financial aid:
“Lawmakers also should look into whether KEES, the Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship, is the most effective way for a poor state to use revenue from its lottery.
The financial aid awarded by KEES serves to inflate tuition with no regard to the financial needs of individual students.”
Kentucky’s merit-based KEES program is probably the only thing keeping college affordable at all in the state. Shifting it, as they suggest, into being just another needs-based program will raise direct costs for families who save for college and likely just add more debt to many of those who qualify for the need-based aid.