Students at Queens College and other City University of New York schools are understandably upset over the governors call to raise tuition at the state-funded colleges. The governor has proposed raising tuitions and cutting the states Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) in an effort to close a massive deficit in fiscal year 2004.
For the students it is a double dose of bad news. But the response of a student leader at a protest organized by the New York Public Interest Research Group at Queens College was equally stunning.
When the economy is struggling, instead of increasing tuition, they should be lowering it, said Rebecca Feder, the president of the student body. Public schools should not be hurt when the economy goes bad.
Clearly Ms. Feder is applying the Peter Pan Principle of government administration. This type of planning only flies with liberal doses of pixie dust and happy thoughts. In the real world, when the economy is struggling, the state has less money to spend.
Basically the governor was left with two unpopular choices: he could increase taxes or he could cut government spending. Pataki is afraid that any new or increased taxes will drive businesses out of the state damaging the prospects for a long-term recovery.
On the other hand, if thousands of students suddenly find that they can no longer afford a college education, even at the state-funded schools, this too will have a negative impact on the state's economic future.
We would be very interested in knowing how Ms. Feder and NYPIRG would balance the budget. Would they increase taxes? If not at CUNY and SUNY, where would they cut spending? Law enforcement? Medical services for the poor? Housing assistance?
The budget task that lies before the Legislature and the governor is awesome. As far as we can see, there are no easy solutions. No one should get away with suggesting anything to the contrary.
©2003 Community News Group
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