A tea party may be coming soon to a campus near you. This comes from an article today by David Moltz in Inside Higher Ed. Moltz reports that:
One Tea Party group in New Jersey is questioning Warren County Community College’s plans to open a satellite campus, meant to accommodate the institution’s burgeoning enrollment in outlying areas and free up space on its main campus.
Despite the fact that the community college can pay for expansion with its existing funds and by renting out space, some tea party members are still bothered by the plan, which will not raise taxes at all.
Members of the Warren County Tea Party wrote a letter to the county protesting the community college expansion. John Clemmer, founder of the Warren County NJ Tea Party Patriots, wrote that money, “doesn’t grow on trees. People work for it every day. We don’t print money. It’s our money, no matter what you’re talking about doing.”
While tea party activists, known for their nationally-coordinated anti-tax protests, may be misguided in this particular case, community college officials say local opposition to expansion plans and taxes increases are a normal part of running these colleges, which are supposed to be responsive to the needs of the community.
According to the Inside Higher Ed, George Boggs, president of the American Association of Community Colleges, put the New Jersey complaints in perspective:
The Tea Party is doing what many taxpayers’ associations have done in the past, questioning every use of taxpayers’ dollars.” [Taxpayers] wanted to be convinced that these projects were worth it, wondering if sufficient numbers of students would be served by expansion and if it would help the local economy.
It’s hard to argue that sort of oversight is really a bad thing for community colleges.