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Fully fund higher ed or make changes

Mississippi needs to adequately and consistently fund its public universities.

Legislative budget cuts in recent years are putting the state’s eight public universities, including Ole Miss, in a tight squeeze. They are raising tuition annually to make up the difference but it isn’t enough.

The issue, of course, is that Mississippi is a small state with a sluggish economy that funds eight public universities and a worthy and strong community college system.

If Mississippi was a business, and fresh eyes and decisions could start anew without regard to historical legacy issues, some of our public universities would be merged to produce a more cost-effective model.

Politically, however, that’s not likely to happen since the subject is emotionally charged and usually ends up focused on race. Example: Historically black Mississippi Valley State and Delta State can merge more easily in theory than reality because nobody wants to give and race ultimately becomes a predominant issue.

That’s unfortunate because the inability to deal with reality ultimately takes from them all. Thus, legislators are proposing more cuts this year while university leaders are desperately asking for relief.

Higher education is the gateway to a brighter future for this state and we have evidence of that in Oxford, as Ole Miss’ growth and success has fueled regional growth.

We don’t want to see that slow because the state won’t do its part and deal with the issues rather than inflict more cuts.