Jonathan Butcher

Maricopa Community Colleges: Flush with cash and hungry for more

Posted on June 16, 2011 | Author: Jonathan Butcher
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Pop quiz: what institution has 460 employees making over $100,000 per year, 38 of whom received raises of $10,000 or more between 2008 and 2010? Maricopa County residents should know, they paid for it—and now they are paying even more.

The giant sucking sound you hear is from the Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD), one of the nation’s largest—and arguably most bloated—community college districts. While Arizona has lost over 300,000 jobs since 2007, the MCCCD has turned requests for property tax and tuition increases into an annual event. College leadership has requested property tax increases each year since 2005, while requesting tuition increases in six of the past seven years.

On Tuesday, by a 4 to 1 vote, MCCCD’s governing board approved a 3 percent hike to county residents’ primary property tax bill, bringing the total college tax bill for a $100,000 home to over $120.

As student enrollment has climbed steadily in the past decade, the college district’s spending has exploded. This year total spending hit $1.6 billion, reports Goldwater Institute investigative journalist Mark Flatten. Flatten’s latest, “Schooled in Obstruction: Maricopa Community College Staff Blocks Cost-Cutting Reforms while Pushing Tax and Tuition Hikes,” reports how Chancellor Rufus Glasper’s leadership has turned MCCCD into a serious financial drain on county residents.  

“I have found no policies that specifically limit the Chancellor’s authority” over personnel decisions, wrote Glasper in an email uncovered by Flatten. “Staffing is a means not an end, and means are my prerogative.” Someone should ask what the “ends” are, and who is responsible for them, because the average completion rate for full-time students in the Maricopa system is 19 percent, below even the disturbingly low national average of 21 percent.

County residents should not fund MCCCD’s bloat any longer. The MCCCD board should pass a multi-year moratorium on any tax increases, and Arizona legislators should explore ways to break the district into smaller, independent community colleges to promote competition and more efficient use of tax dollars.

Jonathan Butcher is education director for the Goldwater Institute.

Learn More:

Goldwater Institute: Maricopa County Community College District Calls for Tax and Tuition Increases while Blocking Cost-Cutting Reforms

Goldwater Institute: Schooled in Obstruction: Maricopa Community College Staff Blocks Cost-Cutting Reforms While Pushing Tax and Tuition Hikes

Goldwater Institute: Maricopa County Community College District hurting businesses and students

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