AZTEC PRESS EDITORIAL: State must reinvest in college education

The recent decision by Pima Community College leaders to raise tuition has brought the soaring costs of higher education back into our collective consciousness.

As the price of everything from food and gas to clothing continues to rise, an extra $5 per credit hour for classes will take another bite out of college students’ wallets.

Who is ultimately responsible for the increasing price of trying to better oneself via education?

The easy answer: the Arizona legislature and Gov. Jan Brewer.

Brewer has overseen what the Washington Post calls “the most draconian cuts to state college and university budgets in the nation” in her quest to lower the state budget.

While she achieved that goal, students and others with little or no income have paid the price.

Arizona has cut its state spending per student in half since 2008, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

PCC has seen its share of the budget provided by the state dwindle from 15 percent to a mere 5 percent.

Now that the economy is supposedly recovering, state government should bring an end to austerity measures and reinvest in colleges and the people who benefit from them.

Numerous studies have proven that funds spent on higher education translate to an enormous cost-benefit. That means overall the money will be well spent, unlike many other projects around Tucson that have become money-pits over the years.

Community colleges are famous for advancing the local area. Increased investment by the state would allow Pima to revitalize Tucson through programs currently in danger of falling behind global standards.

Institutions would be able to hire more top-level talent and upgrade the quality of teaching if wages for instructors were more competitive and incentives were available for greater achievement.

Students who are already working long hours in conjunction with school, stretching their financial aid or living with their parents to save money should not be expected to pay for technological advances or salary increases.

The state needs to roll back education cuts and reinvest in the future of Arizona. The flow of taxpayer money to institutions of higher learning must be restored.

Written on behalf of the Aztec Press Editorial Board by Editor-in-Chief Andrew Paxton. The Editorial Board can be reached for comment at aztecpress@pima.edu.

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