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Commentary: Kasich Not Helping Ohio Tuition Increases

The U.S. Department of Education released its 2012 list of the top 25 most expensive public universities. Four of those top 25 are Ohio schools, including two in the top ten, The Ohio State University and Miami University. That puts Ohio in second place overall for most expensive public universities, beaten out only by our neighboring rival Pennsylvania, for this dubious honor. So, umm, go Bucks?! And go they will, OSU leadership recommended a 3.2 percent increase in undergraduate tuition and fees for the 2012-2013 school year just weeks ago. This tuition increase was announced on the heel of a Dayton Daily News story stating that last year the university’s salary bonuses increased by 89 percent. In that article, Ohio University economics Professor Richard Vedder said, the scale of these bonuses are "not the norm in higher education,â€? and that he has “never seen anything like this – never." Fortunately (at least for those bonus recipients) the school has gotten the support it needs to produce results – at least that’s what OSU President Gordon Gee said. During a press event in January, Governor Kasich said, "I can tell you Gordon Gee said that this administration is more friendly to higher education than about any place in the country, and Gordon says that now that we have what we need we better produce for the governor." But what was the context of that quote? Kasich was speaking about a new minority jobs program he’s piloting at three community colleges and how those are being funded. At one of the colleges, the Lorain County Community College, the program will be funded through tuition revenue, which is increasing by another 3.5% due to diminished state funding, according to the LCCC Board. Kasich’s patent response to complaints about reduced funding? He said that the LCCC should “better husband their resources and have a focus.â€? Kasich went on to say that he wouldn’t raise taxes to help the situation, that raising taxes would make the state less competitive, that it would “kill the state.â€? So what exactly would raising taxes do to kill Ohio? Nothing Kasich isn’t already doing, himself, by pushing tax increases down to the local level, where the cost is born upon the smallest group of people, often across those who are most hurting. And according to a recent Institute for a Competitive Workforce, U.S. Chamber of Commerce report, Ohio universities rate below the national average on almost every measurement. Which brings me back to the top 25 most expensive public university list. When Kasich said he wants to keep our state competitive is he referring to lists like this? Because if we keep reaching for the top of that list, the only students our universities will have will be the ones whose parents received $1 million bonuses. But, like those administrators taking bonuses while doling out tuition hikes, Kasich’s attempts at Union busting and defunding of education means his actions against Ohioans ring truer than his words.