Drowning Puppies at Senate Finance

The Senate Finance Committee in action.

Barring a Lazarus-like resurrection from the dead, a bill that would require Virginia colleges and university boards to allow public input on tuition increases has been killed in the state Senate. The bill won approval in the House of Delegates 99 to 0, sailed through the Senate Committee on Education and Health 14 to 1, but died in the Senate Finance Committee on a 7 to 6 vote.

The bill, championed in the legislature by Del. Jason Miyares, R-Virginia Beach, and Sen. Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax, had been a top priority of Partners for College Affordability and Public Trust as well as this blog. Reports the Virginian-Pilot:

James Toscano, president of Partners for College Affordability and Public Trust, testified in support and said after the hearing that the Senate missed an easy opportunity to let Virginia’s students and paying parents know they care about the high cost of college.

“It’s bad enough that the cost of higher education in Virginia is spiraling out of control,” Toscano said. “But failing to ensure the voices of students and parents are heard before public appointees set tuition is a blow to good governance and transparency.”

But the views of the University of Virginia and the College of William & Mary, two of the public institutions that have raised their tuition the most aggressively in recent years, prevailed.

Representatives for both the University of Virginia and the College of William & Mary said they don’t oppose getting input, but said they give plenty of opportunities throughout the year

Betsey Daley, U.Va.’s representative, said the board members, president and other officials’ emails are easily accessible online. The student representative on the Board of Visitors also holds meetings on the issue and is “very aware of the sentiment and mood.”

“One public hearing is not a substitute for year-round input we have at U.Va.,” Daley said.

Bacon’s bottom line: Seriously? Affordability and access are the most important issues facing higher ed today. Student indebtedness, a direct result of unaffordability, is creating a social crisis so acute that President Donald Trump now is contemplating allowing students to discharge their debt through bankruptcy, thus foisting tens of billions of dollars of liabilities onto taxpayers. The real objection is that UVa and W&M don’t want their boards to endure the tedium of hearing the little people bitching about tuition.

Virginia’s colleges and universities, especially its elite colleges and universities, need more transparency and accountability. Their arrogance will haunt them. To paraphrase John Paul Jones: We have not yet begun to fight!

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3 responses to “Drowning Puppies at Senate Finance

  1. Typical Saslaw – votes yes in the Senate Committee on Education and Health then votes to kill it in the Senate Finance Committee. Maybe he breathed in too many fumes at those gas stations he once owned.

  2. I gotta say that a mandatory public hearing on an issue they are already getting an earful about seems kind of meaningless…. Where is the legislation actually setting some restraints on tuition hikes?

  3. I think if Virginia higher ed was higher than other states Higher Ed – it would justifiably attract some legislation for restraint on tuition. But if Va Higher Ed is pretty much in line with other states Higher Ed.. then what is the justification for Va doing something?

    I’m quite sure the folks from Va higher ed are making that very point to the GA guys.

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