Until recently, Rep. Gene Pelowski, (DFL-Winona), had a reputation of being a reformer of higher education systems. That reputation has slipped mightily in the last 3 years. I wrote this post to highlight how disengaged he’s been on higher education:

Chairman Pelowski hasn’t held a single hearing looking into any of these disgraceful events. Examining the minutes for the House Higher Ed Committee’s meetings shows that Chairman Pelowski didn’t devote a single minute on oversight. Chairman Pelowski didn’t ask Clarence Hightower where negotiations were at between the Board and Chancellor Rosenstone. He didn’t ask the MnSCU Board about contract negotiations between MnSCU and the IFO.

Rep. Pelowski’s inattention to detail is only surpassed by his willingness to insist on just throwing more money at the problem without providing proper oversight. Here’s something from his latest e-letter:

Rep. Gene Pelowski, the minority lead on the committee, issued the following statement after the vote:

“With a projected budget surplus of $1.9 billion, now isn’t the time to burden our college students with more debt. If enacted, the House Republican’s bill would lead to increased tuition for Minnesota’s students and more debt. Making higher education more accessible and affordable is part of Minnesota’s economic success that produced the $1.9 billion surplus.”

Again, Rep. Pelowski hasn’t demonstrated an attitude towards making sure MnSCU spends the taxpayers’ money wisely. Rep. Pelowski’s attention is solely focused on funding.

KEY QUESTION: Why isn’t Rep. Pelowski interested in efficiency?

Here’s what’s heartbreaking. Throwing good money into a dysfunctional system incentivizes corrupt officials to continue misspending money on unimportant initiatives. Nothing about that sounds right to a sane person. While I’m picking on Rep. Pelowski in this post, the truth is that other legislators have the same attitude.

In 2007, when higher ed funding was increased by $296,000,000, Sen. Sandy Pappas complained that we were “starving higher education.” Despite that increase in funding, students still got hit with major tuition increases. That $296,000,000 increase, BTW, represented an 11% increase in funding.

The point is that MnSCU received a major funding increase but didn’t lift a finger to limit tuition increases. Parents got hit twice, once for a funding increase, then with a tuition increase. There’s nothing equitable about that. In fact, it’s a rip-off to parents. That’s before talking about students who had to take out student loans to pay for MnSCU’s fiscal insanity.

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