Education Meets Economics

Over at Right Wisconsin, Nik and I tag teamed the debate over Walker’s proposal to cut the UW System by $300 million in exchange for more autonomy and reforms to how the system is funded.

I said that the plan makes sense because conservatives supportĀ the very minimum of regulation forĀ private institutions. As state support for UW approaches zero, it starts to look like a private system:

It makes no sense for politicians to slash funding budget after budget but still expect to retain the same level of control over the UW System; the closer UW comes to being funded entirely by tuition and program revenue, the closer it comes to being a private institution. With less taxpayer skin in the game, the legislature shouldn’t have control over factors like what contractor will re-pave a parking lot at Parkside or what Stout pays its landscaping crew.

While I just mentioned that the UW System “could rightly be criticized for its fat,” Nik went into specifics without mercy:

Giving schools less money does not have to mean providing an inferior education. It might mean doing away with things like university-sponsored drag shows, one of the more bizarre activities produced by UW-La Crosse when I attended there…Anecdotally, a college roommate of mine once received several hundred dollars to conduct economic research. His project was completed in an afternoon while using Yahoo! Finance and basic statistical modeling software.

There’s a lot of efficiency that can be found, and private for-profit universities are finding them, from distance learning to simply not offering useless degree programs. The old ivory tower model dating back centuries to medieval France don’t work anymore – it’s time to get with it, UW.

Flexibility will make it easier, and the cut will give you no choice.

EXTRA! Commentary from this week’s podcast:

About the writer: Chris Rochester has worked in communications and finance for a state Senate and congressional campaign, consulted on numerous Assembly and local races, and has held leadership roles in his local Republican Party. He's communications director for the MacIver Institute. Commentary here is strictly his own.
  • Clyde Fromona

    You know, 2 years ago Walker and legislators borrowed a billion dollars for the UW system maintenace and new building construction. Once again proving any amount of money for a liberal is NOT enough.