Rep. Meeks is among those laid off at of UofL, laments loss of quality and rising tuition

06/26/2012 12:40 PM

Rep. Reginald Meeks said his colleagues in the General Assembly need to be more aware of the effects state funding cuts to universities have had on students, their families and the families of employees that the public colleges have laid off.

Over the last month, the University of Kentucky has laid off employees. And Meeks, a Louisville Democrat, said he has seen his job with the University of Louisville eliminated.

“In all honesty … I am a victim of layoffs from the University of Louisville,” he said. (10:00). Meeks served as director of outreach programs at UofL until last week.

Meeks also reacted to the sharp increase in tuition dollars at public universites and colleges. Tuition at the Kentucky Community and Technical College System has doubled while the tuition rates for four year universities have increase three and four fold. (6:30-8:00 of the interview.)

“It should put Kentucky families on notice that they must begin to take education seriously early on,” he said, adding that it’s too costly for students and the state for students to take remedial costs.

And it’s time for Kentucky’s public universities to offer more three-year degree programs to make college more affordable for students, he said. (8:30)

Meeks, who sponsored legislation to better regulate for-profit colleges, said the greatest frustration from former students of for-profit colleges is that they pay for degrees in certain programs that aren’t recognized by potential employers in those fields. (3:00)

“I wish I could sit here and tell you it’s going to be the answer. I don’t think it will be,” Meeks said (3:50). He said he fears the for-profit colleges successfully lobbied to water down the bill, for instance, by resisting moving the oversight to the Council on Postsecondary Education that oversees public and independent colleges.

Meeks’ for-profit college bill passed into law and creates an oversight council that includes the commissioner of education, community members and representatives from the colleges. It requires that board to raise money for the for-profit college to stock a $500,000 fund to provide financial relief to students.

About Ryan Alessi

Ryan Alessi joined cn|2 in May 2010 as senior managing editor and host of Pure Politics. He has covered politics for more than 10 years, including 7 years as a reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Follow Ryan on Twitter @cn2Alessi. Ryan can be reached at 502-792-1135 or ryan.alessi@twcnews.com.

Comments

  • Mike Triplett wrote on June 26, 2012 05:02 PM :

    Actually Rep. Meeks you are a victim of the Obama economy which you voted for.

  • Bruce Layne wrote on June 27, 2012 10:25 AM :

    Representative Meeks completely misses several key points, and sadly, he is typical of our legislators. There is a problem with education, but not understanding the problem guarantees that it will only become worse.

    The reason that education costs are increasing so much faster than inflation is government subsidies. There is not a free market for education. Students get grants and loans to pay for their education, and the universities are directly subsidized by our taxes. Where is the market incentive to provide cost effective education when the government keeps dumping money into education? Politicians score points with their economically clueless constituents by telling them they’re voting to make education more affordable, when the exact opposite is true.

    Conversely, with less of the direct tax subsidies to universities, some of them are finally reducing staff by a tiny 1% or so, which are much smaller cuts than most companies in the private sector have been forced to endure lately. They’re eliminating staff that are far removed from the actual business of educating. They’re laying off a few directors of outreach programs. Rather than heralding this as a minor return to the free market which will help curb out-of-control tuition cost increases, there is much gnashing of teeth and increased calls for more government money.

    Representative Meeks and most other legislators seem to think that the solution to rising costs of education is more government subsidies at every level. Maybe they should take some microeconomics classes, where they’d learn the relationship between price, supply, and demand. Artificially increasing the demand for education by flooding the market with “free” government money will inevitably increase the price… even for those who aren’t taking advantage of that “free” government money.

    The best thing we could do for education is to get government completely out of it. They’re spending a lot of our tax dollars to make education less affordable.

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