It’s pretty obvious by now that lots of states are having trouble funding public universities.

Central Washington University emeritus professor Corwin King has a solution. In an editorial in the Seattle Times King writes that public universities should be funded as a basic state service:

As we move from a manufacturing- to a knowledge-based society, that education becomes less a luxury and more a necessity. We should treat it that way, and fund it as a basic state service like health care or good roads. The higher the education level of a society, the more prosperous and stable it is.

Funding state universities in this manner could remove college funding from some degree of legislative whims but the policy proposal is vague. One problem is that while all Americans seem to publicly value education, that doesn’t mean everyone values expensive education. Ohio State University, for instance, recently built a new student union for $118 million. Should the Buckeye State pay for that?

How much of the Public universities should be funded as a basic state service? The total cost, or just a certain amount guaranteed every year?

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Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer