‘Enterprise university’ plan lacks transparency

Published 9:22 am Friday, August 19, 2011

The “enterprise university” plan unveiled Thursday by Ohio Chancellor Jim Petro offers a very attractive premise: Remove the government rules and restraints that universities say hamper their efforts to be more entrepreneurial, and they will in turn generate more revenue, create more jobs and produce more graduates while costing taxpayers less.

But the proposal also could strip away some of the strengths inherent in the traditional state-supported university system, including the schools’ accountability and transparency to the public that still would be supporting them. It raises serious questions that must be addressed before Ohioans can have confidence that their interests are truly being served with such a new system.

… (S)tate lawmakers should tread carefully when considering this measure, because it marks more than simple regulatory reform — it would alter the whole concept of “public university.” If the state is exercising so little oversight over these institutions, what exactly is its role? With so little money coming from the state, would they really be public universities? Wouldn’t they be private in all but name only? …

Email newsletter signup

Ohio owes much of its historic success and prosperity to a robust system of public universities providing affordable, easily accessible, broad-based higher education. The fear is that by allowing them near-unrestricted freedom to compete with elite private universities, the education system could leave average Ohioans behind.

The “enterprise university” proposal has some big questions to answer before it merits Ohioans’ support.

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Discount plan could work but would burden others

A proposal being considered by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio for adding an incentive to the state’s economic development toolbox is worth consideration, but has a potential downside.

PUCO developed the plan with state economic development leaders to offer a discount on electricity to companies that create jobs and make big investments in the state. …

That would mean Ohio would open up electricity discounts for the biggest of industries, perhaps making the state attractive to electric-intensive manufacturing.

Such discounts aren’t unprecedented, but they’re generally done on a company-by-company basis with their local supplier, with state approval for any deals reached, usually to help keep a struggling existing company afloat.

The issue, as with all sorts of economic safety nets, is, just who pays for the discount? …

The conceptual plan addresses the issue, noting that discounts would be offset mostly by a charge on other ratepayers. …

It would seem a better vehicle would be to allow the electric utilities to govern their own fate, company by company, case by case, based on what they can afford, thus leaving the private sector, the utilities themselves‚ to make its own determinations on how much it can afford to give and who should pay. …

The (Steubenville) Herald-Star