NH House Majority Leader Comments on Bill to Dissolve University System Chancellor’s Office

CONCORD –House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt (R-Salem) today commented on the passage of House Bill 1692, which would dissolve the Chancellor’s Office of the New Hampshire University System. The bill passed 199 to 95. 

House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt

“This bill puts $15 to $20 million back into the University System that we expect to go toward tuition decreases for New Hampshire students and their families. Our university system has a twelve million dollar budget, and a university with one of the highest public tuition costs in the nation.  We must put more money toward reducing tuition and eliminating unnecessary and inefficient administrative overhead.

“When the Chancellor’s office was first created in 1965 it had one employee. Unfortunately, like all government bureaucracies that office has grown to over 70 people. House Bill 1692 helps to rein in frivolous and duplicative bureaucracy in the name of making sure that New Hampshire students’ tuition dollars are not being wasted.

“More autonomy in the university system would allow each school to best design a product to serve their students.  Not every school is the same or attracts the same clientele.  Not every student is the same or has equal talents and abilities. And we have a capable board of trustees that can oversee the administration of our schools just fine.

“We were not pleased to see the increase of in-state tuition by 8.7 percent for the current academic year at UNH, much beyond what was necessary to replace lost state funding. This is especially concerning since the teachers union, for yet another year in a row, requested a 16 percent raise in pay. All alternatives should be explored before hiking tuition, which led us to look in to whether changes such as elimination of the Chancellor’s Office could alleviate these kinds of decisions and we found, indeed, it will.

“There seems to be a philosophy in this system that you can avoid reform simply by waiting out those who are seeking reform until they leave the legislature and the status quo can continue.  But the message of this legislature is that change is coming and in these tough economic times we can no longer afford to continue down the usual path.

“The administration of our universities should look for savings within their budget—just as every family in New Hampshire has had to do in these tough economic times—instead of automatically passing on the onus of wasteful and excessive spending to the students with tuition hikes. I hope the Senate will join with us and New Hampshire families to move to lower the cost of higher education for our citizens.”