Should NM get out of the higher education business?

Gov. Susana Martinez has vetoed ALL funding for New Mexico’s institutes of higher education. This is not “just” the $700+ million from the General Fund. When all federal and state sources of revenue are factored in, the total is $3 billion.

We believe that much of this money (nearly all) will ultimately be reinstated. But, it got us thinking: why do states spend so much money on higher education in the first place? Impoverished New Mexico spends more than most states on higher ed with little to show for it. Should states spend ANY money at all on higher education? Our friends at the free market Michigan-based Mackinac Center give five good reasons “no.”

Here they are (look at the full link for data and justification of each point):

1) There is no link between higher education subsidies and economic growth, and none between college degrees and job creation.

2) More subsidies equal more waste.

3) When comparing earning power between college graduates and non-graduates, correlation is not causation, and the actual cost of college matters.

4) Ensuring that everyone has college schooling would not enhance the labor market — it would dilute a university degree.

5) Higher education may be the next bubble to burst.

I’d add an additional point: Spending on higher education benefits those who are likely to make more money than those who don’t. As the left-wing Demos policy group notes:

Using state taxes to fund public colleges is an exceptionally regressive policy on two fronts. First, college students — both entrants and graduates — are disproportionately middle-income and upper-income (especially traditional students)…Consequently, across-the-board public tuition subsidies direct more money to the upper classes than the lower classes, something other college financing regimes — income-based repayment, means-tested grants, to name just a couple — do not do.

Second, state taxes are generally regressive…

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