Since 1988 the Legislature has been penurious to higher education while lavishing money on prisons. Some of the increase was necessary to improve substandard conditions at houses of correction and to address an upsurge in violent crimes associated with crack cocaine. Yet spending has kept rising even as the Massachusetts rate of violent crime has declined 40 percent since 1993. It totals $830 million in this year's budget.
To use limited resources better, the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation recommends allowing the colleges to get around the strictures of the Pacheco antiprivatization law. A pilot program to do just that was proposed by the House Ways and Means Committee this year but failed in the full House. As the foundation suggests, Governor Romney and the Legislature need to reach agreement on a plan that will give the campuses the resources and organizational tools needed to pursue their mission.
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