Do We Really Want to "Stabilize" State University Funding?

George Leef

In this week's Pope Center Clarion Call, I take a critical look at a proposal made in the Nov. 23 Wall Street Journal by University of Oregon president Richard Lariviere. He repeats the usual lines about how the US is becoming less well educated since fewer young people are obtaining college degrees, rapidly rising tuition, and falling state appropriations to conjure up a scenario meant to alarm Oregonians. He wants them to "save" the University of Oregon through a plan whereby the legislature would borrow half of the endowment he thinks is needed to "stabilize" funding. My contention is that this is a bad deal for taxpayers. It only saves U of O officials from having to compete for tax dollars, along with many other possible uses of money. Everyone would like to have guaranteed revenues and escape the need to persuade people to buy or donate. We get better results, however --more efficient use of resources--when decision makers have to worry that if they aren't doing a good job, people will say "no."

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