“Afraid?” Why are Virginia’s universities “killing sensible reforms”?
Bill that would give students and parents right to speak before raising tuition and fees killed in Virginia Senate
RICHMOND, Va. (February 21, 2018) — Today, the Senate Finance Committee voted to reconsider House Bill 1473, Delegate Jason Miyares’ proposal calling for public comment at a trustee’s meeting before Virginia's public colleges and universities could raise tuition and fees.
The measure failed 7-6, one day after the bill was initially voted down 6-4. The re-vote comes on the heels of morning coverage of the initial vote in The Virginian-Pilot and the Richmond Times-Dispatch: “Miyares said representatives from higher education killing sensible reforms will only lead to more anger, and questioned what they were afraid of.”
Ten other states require public comment before raising tuition, and dozens of Virginia boards from the milk commission to the board of aviation routinely provide for public comment.
Earlier in the legislative session, the bill had passed the House of Delegates 99-0. Between the two separate votes, the measures received support from Senators Carrico, Dunnavant, Howell, McDougle, Newman, Obenshain, Vogel and Wagner before being killed in the Senate committee. According to statewide polls, only 10 percent of Virginians believe college boards should be left to freely set rates for tuition and fees. Said Dr. James Toscano, president of Partners for College Affordability and Public Trust, “The Senate missed an easy opportunity to let Virginia's students and paying parents know they care about the plight of the high cost of college and student debt in Virginia. It’s bad enough that the cost of higher education in Virginia is spiraling out of control. But failing to ensure the voices of students and parents are heard before public appointees set tuition is a blow to good governance and transparency.”
Representatives from the University of Virginia and the College of William & Mary testified at the committee hearing and called into question the need for more public comment, saying they already receive enough feedback from students. “It’s disappointing to listen as publicly funded and governed institutions quash public input and exert control by limiting who is allowed to speak,” said Toscano.
Partners will continue to make giving voice to students and parents on the issue of college affordability a priority in Virginia and throughout America.