Another Arizona Record

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Wow. Another record.

Way to go, Arizona.

Turns out, the tuition at Arizona’s three public universities has risen faster than in any other state in the past five years — a whopping 70 percent rise, when adjusted for inflation. That compares to a national average of 27 percent.

Turns out, lawmakers figure that the $10,000-per-year tuition at Arizona State University meets the constitutional requirement to keep tuition “as nearly free as possible.”

Mind you. The average college graduate makes almost three times as much as the average high school graduate, according to a 2010 survey by the College Board. Moreover, the college graduates have lower blood pressure, lower risk of colorectal, prostate, lung and breast cancer, according to studies by BMC Health and the National Cancer Institute. College graduates are far more likely to have health insurance, report high job satisfaction, remain employed and have children who earn college degrees.

Now, you’d think that the Legislature would want to maintain a supply of college graduates just so as to have someone paying the income tax bill to cover the cost of lawmakers’ per diem. But nope, first the Legislature makes the deepest cuts in K-12 education, then forces the fastest rise in university tuition in the whole country.

Now, we were thinking that maybe this reflected a lack of education among state lawmakers, since they couldn’t seem to work out the math. But in 2011, the Chronicle of Higher Education reported that 34 percent of Arizona legislators have a bachelor’s degree and 36 percent have some kind of fancy graduate degree. Now, granted — that’s a little worse than most legislatures nationally. But it’s much better than the state’s population as a whole.

So it’s a puzzle: The majority of our lawmakers did go to college, yet they’re dismantling one of the most cost-effective public university systems in the country.

All we can figure is that the legislative brain trust got so little out of their own schooling, they don’t much care whether our kids get an education.

Either that, or they just wanted to claim another record.

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