Colleges push for new plan

Ryan Loew

Both state funds for higher education and Ohio’s economy have fallen short in recent years, but university administrators are proposing a plan to improve both.

The plan, called Ohio’s Return on Educational Investment, proposes to improve Ohio’s economy by putting more college graduates in Ohio’s workforce. In turn, lawmakers would invest more funds into universities.

“We have to have tax and Medicaid reform,” Pat Myers, director of Government Relations. “We have to have new companies come and expand here, and then we have to grow the talent pool. We have to have educated graduates.”

Since 2000, Ohio has lost more jobs than any other state, according to the Ohio Board of Regents, while in 2004 Ohio ranked 24th in per capita income with the average Ohioan earning almost $1,500 less than the average American.

“Our state hasn’t rebounded as far as other states,” Myers said. “We’ve been slow to adopt to new economies, and so we have lost a lot of jobs.”

In the plan, which was formulated by the Inter-University Council, a collection of university administrators, universities pledge to increase the number of graduates by 120,000 by 2015.

The state of Ohio then pledges to increase its investment in universities. The final outcome would be higher income, job creation and an enhanced quality of life, said President Carol Cartwright.

“The more baccalereate-prepared people you have in your state, the stronger your economy (will be),” Cartwright said. “If you’re willing to make some investment, we can demonstrate that it will pay for itself in some time.”

The investment plan would produce twice the return in revenue versus its cost by 2025, according to information from the Inter-University Council.

This process is only a proposal, Myers said, and the key is convincing legislators of its worth.

“The single best thing we can do to improve Ohio’s economy is to invest in human capital,” State Rep. Kathleen Chandler (D-Kent) said. “Which means supporting higher education.”

Contact administration Ryan Loew at [email protected].