How does a government monopoly compete against itself? Good question. Perhaps the author of a recent Albuquerque Journal column, Natalie Medina Coggins, has some idea because she asserts that this is the case throughout her article explaining why New Mexico’s higher education system is not only efficient, but could grow.
The assertions made in the article contradict research by the Legislative Finance Committee and the Rio Grande Foundation (to name just two entities that have studied the issue). Medina Coggins takes Sen. John Arthur-Smith to task for pointing out the obvious fact that “duplicate courses are too expensive and risk diluting the state’s best academic programs.”
Medina Coggins cites her husband’s experiences as a professor of social work as “proof” that New Mexico couldn’t possibly cut spending on higher ed, but makes no specific, substantive arguments. After all, this would be tough to do as it would be quite difficult to “prove” that taxpayers benefit from the millions of dollars annually spent to produce new masters in social work and other areas of interest that may or may not provide a real return to society.
While an educated society is important, taxpayer subsidies for higher education clearly benefit middle and upper-income citizens at the expense of families whose children do not obtain a college degree (more than 75% of the population). Like all expenditures of taxpayer money in tough economic times, higher ed spending needs analysis and transparency. Contrary to Medina Coggins’ assertions, Sen. Smith and Rep. Saavedra should be applauded for taking a closer look at the issue.