Too good to be true?

No new tuition.

Sound familiar?

In the 1980s, Bush, the senior, promised the American people they would see no new taxes during his administration. But the president forgot one little detail -ÿCongress is the group that actually passes the budget – and he was forced to back down from his original statement.

Gov. Ted Strickland told Ohio’s students Wednesday that next year they would see no increase in tuition.

As long as he gets his way.

The governor has yet to release the details of his proposed budget to the Ohio Congress, which will likely spend months debating and changing the governor’s plan. So it’s quite possible the governor will have to eat his words, and students will still have to ante up.

But let’s assume his plan works, receiving the wild praise of cash-strapped college students across the state. Sure, those of us who will be here next year would love a tuition freeze on a personal level. Paying for a higher education is difficult for many students and their parents. A one-year tuition freeze would help, just a little, by controlling the amount colleges can charge students to attend. That year reprieve could take a small chunk out of the post-college debt many students face.

But at what cost?

Unless the administration offers to supplement colleges and universities with state funds, schools will have to make cuts to accommodate a tuition freeze. Universities use tuition dollars to pay for everything from professors’ salaries to computer equipment. Their costs raise with inflation every year, so tuition usually rises in kind.

Schools across the state face already tight budgets, coupled with a trend of declining state funds. Strickland’s address yesterday promised to help fund higher education in exchange for increased efficiency – as if most schools haven’t been aiming for that already. When times are tough, most businesses find the most efficient way to do business and, whether you realize it or not, higher education is a big business. State money and fundraising only go so far. In order for a school’s graduates to be able to effectively compete in the workforce, it must be able to progress.

And progression takes money.

What Strickland failed to mention in his speech is where this money would come from and, if the state does find it, what will be cut to fund it?

Not primary education: Strickland wants to increase state funding, focusing on student need and community wealth, or lack thereof.

Not health care: Strickland hopes to expand Medicaid coverage and offer affordable insurance to every Ohioan under 21.

Not through taxes: Strickland already proposed a property tax cut for homeowners older than 65.

Democrats applauded his speech. Republicans joined in at times, and the minority leader even said he agreed with Strickland’s vision, but wondered how he planned to balance an already precarious state budget by creating more spending programs.

You can only cut the pie so many times.

Strickland’s vision for a stronger state is one filled with exciting possibilities, and a tuition freeze would definitely please Ohio’s students in the short run, but we have to ask about the future: Let’s not take instant gratification over long-term quality. If Strickland can make it work, we’ll be thrilled.

Until then, we’ll hold our applause.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.