Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023 |
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This is not good news.
According to a study by Illinois State University, Hawa’i ranks 38th among the 50 states in its spending on colleges and universities. The report also puts the Aloha State in 49th place – next to worst – in the amount of positive change of its funding for higher education in the past two years.
On the latter count, Hawai’i “has consistently failed to gain ground,” according to the report. In fact, Hawai’i and Louisiana are the only states that have reduced higher-education funding in the past fiscal year While the news isn’t good, it’s not all that surprising. By most accounts, Hawaii’s economy has limited the amount of public money available to the state’s institutions of higher learning. As the economy goes, so goes the spending on college education.
The University of Hawai’i has about $160 million in maintenance of its buildings, a big shortfall in equipment, and a “woefully underpaid staff,” as UH senior vice president Dean Smith said.
The UH faculty is negotiating with the state for higher wages but so far not getting what they want.
Meantime, the proposed new state budget that Governor Ben Cayetano submitted this week to the Legislature calls for the university system to get 12 percent ($429 million) of the state’s general fund.
To help UH improve its position, voters last month approved a measure that gives the university more autonomy in its internal business affairs. And more help is on the way in Cayetano’s budget proposal, if it’s approved by legislators: He wants $40 million for university maintenance anad repairs. He also wants the state to help pay for a new medical school and biomedical research facility for UH, a project he says would help enhance the state’s role as the medical research and healthcare center of the Pacific.
UH should have the same standing in higher education. For that, the state should increase its financial support as soon as the money’s available.
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