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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Public funding of private colleges intolerable


    No matter how many times you tell a petulant child to keep his hands out of a cookie jar, he’ll always be caught trying to steal one more treat.

    Like those of a petulant child, the actions of Rep. Laura Knaperek, R-Tempe, are reprehensible. And despite what Knaperek will say, she’s trying to steal your money.

    By means of a bill she announced Tuesday that would give $8.2 million to Arizona’s private universities, Knaperek means to make it so that any student attending a private institution – regardless of need or merit – could walk away with a $2,000 check.

    While it’s difficult to comprehend why Knaperek would believe it necessary to have the state government subsidize private schools, it’s not surprising.

    According to Knaperek’s Web site, she currently attends the University of Phoenix, one of many private schools that would be the first to receive funding from her sponsored golden platter.

    The personal motives behind Knaperek’s bill are certainly suspect, and it’s apparent that she would rather give money to private universities than increase funding to a chronically malnourished public university system.

    Beyond the mere outrage that such a bill inspires in citizens who have witnessed firsthand the true state of publicly funded higher education, it’s important to recognize the numerous flaws in the bill.

    First, the bill would make it easier for private school students to receive state aid than it currently is for truly needy or deserving students attending public schools.

    Students seeking need-based aid at the UA must fill out federal, state and university forms, meet with advisers and jump through other hoops just to be eligible.

    Incoming students receiving merit-based aid in the form of tuition remission or waivers must meet high academic standards established by the state.

    Nowhere is it as easy for public school students to receive money from the state as it would be for students at private schools like Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Grand Canyon University.

    By supporting the bill, legislators are betraying the trust of not only their constituents, but also the entire state’s tax base.

    Legislators would be giving tax dollars to private bodies that don’t have to answer to the strict requirements and policies that govern the UA, ASU and Northern Arizona University.

    Supporters argue that the bill wouldn’t take money away from public institutions. That’s empty rhetoric.

    In an era in which the UA must restrict the operations of maintenance crews – risking the safety of students, faculty and staff – to land in the black, there seems to be an extra $8.2 million lying around the state that would be better spent at private schools.

    Supporters of the bill counter that the UA already receives some $394 million from the state, adding that it’s more than enough to cover costs.

    Effectively, the bill’s supporters are saying that there’s no need for additional faculty to teach classes to students the state requires the UA to accept. Those positions aren’t really necessary, despite being mandated by the state.

    The UA could definitely not use an additional $2-3 million to help pay for salary and benefit increases that were passed into law by the legislature. Because, when the UA’s costs increase as required by state law, it definitely makes sense to ask the UA to cover the cost.

    The bottom line is that this bill would be the worst state financial blunder this side of the alternative fuels debacle. The bill doesn’t make sense. It’s duplicitous, outrageous and just plain irresponsible.

    The entire state would be best served to see this bill die a quick death. Additionally, the state – and particularly the Tempe community – would be best served to nip Knaperek from future office.

    Opinions are determined by the Wildcat opinions board and written by one of its members. They are Nina Conrad, Lori Foley, Caitlin Hall, Michael Huston, Ryan Johnson, Aaron Mackey and Tim Runestad.

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