Plan condemned too quickly

The time is long overdue for complaints about the inadequacies of funding for higher education in Illinois to stop and constructive action to be taken.

More must be taken into consideration on the part of state and university leaders than tax hikes and tuition increases to ensure the stability and competitiveness of public education.

NIU President John LaTourette took a step in the right direction by making public his proposals offering new approaches for funding and management of university budgets. Unfortunately, critics like State Auditor General Robert G. Cronson are too quick to condemn and too slow to provide suggestions of their own for improvements.

Points proposed by LaTourette suggest initiating an enrollment-based funding plan to allocate state dollars, allowing institutions to collect, invest, manage and carry over tuition and fee revenues and providing governing boards with the ability to establish appropriation regulations, approve budgets and determine tuition and fee levels.

Such suggestions would be to the advantage of higher education institutions. They would provide the opportunity for more autonomous budget-making procedures, which would result in more carefully made decisions on the part of the universities.

By increasing the individual responsibilities of public institutions, the state would not lose control over its taxpayers’ money. Instead, it would force universities to be more accountable for their budgeting and spending.

LaTourette’s plan goes beyond just asking for more funds. He calls for a new approach to higher education funding rather than simply throwing more money at the problem.

Before condemning the plan, as Cronson did, the state should look seriously at the plan’s feasibility. If LaTourette’s plan will not work, they should propose their own plan.