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Minnesota Opinion: On MnSCU costs

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By The Associated Press

An excerpt from recent editorials in Minnesota newspapers:

When the chairman of the Minnesota House Higher Education Committee says there's trou-ble, it must be bad.

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Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia, has been one of the Minnesota State Colleges and Univer-sities system's biggest supporters. But even he said there are problems and MNSCU needs to be changed. He panned the statewide centralized system in a meeting Thursday at Winona State.

It's nice to hear that.

We've been saying MNSCU needs a major change for months.

Instead, DFL legislators as well as the bloated bureaucracy of MNSCU have insisted the prob-lem with higher education must be somewhere else.

...

It is nothing more than a bureaucracy, providing little necessary support to campus and a lot of price.

With the exception of some regionalized legal counsel and technological support, the rest of MNSCU seems to adroitly duplicate what already exists on local campuses. And speaking of local campuses, MNSCU is a relatively recent invention: These universities survived and even thrived long before MNSCU.

They could again.

What we can't figure out is why the DFL only seems to get this point now -- as the reality of unallotment starts to sink in. Why wasn't it looking at MNSCU when the budget and dollars really counted?

It's easy to galavant across the state, decrying (Gov. Tim) Pawlenty's unallotment, but here was a chance to trim a figure surely in the tens if not hundreds of millions. That opportunity -- sadly -- has passed. Instead, MNSCU pays bonuses and sits on millions in reserve while Minne-sota students pay more while getting less.

If legislators are serious about solving the state's problems, here is an opportunity to get a two-fer.

Go after MNSCU, and you'll find a ridiculous amount of bureaucracy, procedure, paperwork and expense in exchange for little of tangible value to the universities and colleges it serves. Go after people like Chancellor James McCormick, who are getting raises while campuses cut back.

Doing this will not only help solve Minnesota's budget problem, but they also will have left the colleges and universities in much better shape.

Just imagine if even half of MNSCU's budget could be sent to the local campuses instead of being spent on administration.

-- Winona Daily News

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