CONCORD – House Speaker William O’Brien (R-Mont Vernon) and House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt (R-Salem) offered the following comments on the passage of House Bill 1692, which would make changes to the administration of the university system of New Hampshire (USNH) by dissolving the Chancellor’s office. The bill passed 247 to 105.
House Speaker William O’Brien
“The Chancellor’s Office has a $23.5 million 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. The university system is a collection of state schools that need to focus on their fundamental mission of a good college education for a reasonable tuition that will not hobble its student years following their graduations.
“We were not pleased to see the board of trustees increased 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. They will.”
House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt
“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. 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.”