Recently the Huntington Herald-Dispatch had a good editorial about the role of higher education in the state's economy. Here's how it started:
Whoever is calling the shots at the Capitol in Charleston next year may want to think twice about continuing the recent trend of reducing state aid for West Virginia's higher education institutions. Curtailing support for those institutions could undermine a key economic component of the state at a time when the Mountain State's struggling economy needs all the help it can get.
The point was underscored last week by a study from West Virginia University's Bureau of Business and Economic Research gauging the economic impact of 21 higher education institutions on their respective local economies. The study, sought by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, concluded that those universities and colleges contributed about $2.7 billion overall to the state's economy in 2014 either directly or indirectly. While by no means the main economic engine of the state, that number equates to about 3.5 percent of the state's total economy - a significant enough portion that warrants careful handling by the state's policy makers. Altogether, that spending supported about 22,000 jobs either at the institutions or by spinoff economic activity, the study found.Sadly, higher education continues to be cut in the state budget. Why anyone would do that in the state with the lowest educational attainment rate is beyond my understanding. But then, the Republican candidate for governor wants to increase mandatory minimums for nonviolent drug offenses and build more prisons while others like state senator Craig Blair want to privatize colleges and universities.
I ask again, what could possibly go wrong?