State funding may decrease for all university students

Jessica Rothschuh

Funding for higher education isn’t looking any better this year for Kent State students.

Pat Myers, director of government relations and lobbyist on behalf of Kent State, briefed the Undergraduate Student Senate on Gov. Bob Taft’s new budget proposal at its meeting yesterday.

Executive Director Gary Broadbent invited Myers to address USS about what he called “the dwindling state funding” the university is receiving.

State funding for college students in Ohio dropped about $1,600 per student in the last four years.

Roderick Chu, chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents, presented these findings in his testimony before the House Finance and Appropriations Committee last week.

The state budget for the fiscal year is about $51.3 billion. Funding for higher education accounts for around 9.9 percent of the total budget, with two-year colleges and community colleges receiving the bulk of this aid.

“The four-year institutions are losing about $18 million that’s gone to the community colleges for funding because their enrollment is rising,” Myers said.

State funding for each inmate rose 31.2 percent since 1996. In the same time, state funding for each full-time college student dropped 14 percent.

High taxes, low funding and a high unemployment rate were reasons Myers said that Ohio college graduates leave the state upon graduation.

“What has been going on in the state of Ohio with intelligent people leaving?” Broadbent asked.

“What you need is a vibrant higher education locale,” Myers said.

By making Ohio more attractive to graduates and raising the retention rate, it may make the state more intellectually wealthy.

Currently, Ohio is 49th in job creation, 49th in unemployment reduction and 39th in the increase of per capita personal income, according to Chu.

Taft’s proposed budget would also increase cigarette and alcohol taxes and eliminate corporate franchise tax by phasing it out 20 percent each year for five years.

The budget is currently being debated in the Ohio House of Representatives.

Several issues, such as education and tax reforms, are being hotly contested, Myers said.

Broadbent asked if the budget would easily pass in the state legislature.

“It’s going to be very difficult with the taxes,” Myers said.

Contact student politics reporter Jessica Rothschuh at [email protected].