There were a flood of news stories last night on proposed cuts of programs offered within the University System Of Georgia. UGA and GA Tech were saying that they will have to cut enrollment by the thousands. UGA says it will end it’s “popular” 4-H extension program. (How long has it been since 4-H was popular? But I digress. That’s the elitist Atlanta snob in me talking.)
The stories have both a sense of PR defense and panic, but the Board Of Regents is also feeling the brunt of legislators who don’t feel like they’ve taken any actual steps to “share the pain”. One told me this week that while the amount of state funding to the BOR has been cut, the spending at the BOR has not. They’ve just passed the bill on to the students via higher tuition and fees.
While many here would say “Good. Let the user pay.”, the problem is that much of these tuition and fee hikes are funded via the hope scholarship and lottery revenues. With many believing lottery revenues have peaked, the situation must be addressed.
Thus, we are now set for one of the most inside baseball struggles of this political season. The Board Of Regents, by design, is one of the most autonomous and politically isolated vehicles of state government. Legislators, feeling the heat on cuts and fearing voter backlash, are demanding accountability and control.
If you’re board with shakedowns, stagnant polls, or retirements that set off political musical chairs, watch this one closely as it develops. It should be a facinating study for true inside baseball.