To revive lagging economies, many states have turned to their natural resources: Pumping oil, mining coal and supplying natural gas to other states.
New Hampshire College and University Council Executive Director Tom Horgan sees one primary resource that can be leaned on in this state for economic recovery: knowledge.
“We don’t have natural gas or oil; our future and our economy is a knowledge-based economy,” he said. “The only way you get a knowledge-based economy is by educating our own and bringing educated into the state.”
But with state funding for higher education cut in half during the last biennium and still up in the air for the next two years, Horgan and other education leaders in the state are worried that New Hampshire’s most valued resource could be diminished.
“As we see a divestment” in higher education, said Todd Leach, interim chancellor of the University System of New Hampshire, “it sends the wrong signals to businesses looking to come here.”
A national report issued last week highlights many of the funding issues the state faces during its ongoing budget process, showing just how New Hampshire’s support for higher education stacks up with other states.
The state was one of only two that cut its funding to higher education by about half from fiscal 2008-13.
Its 49.9 percent cut, which came in 2011, was only outdone by Arizona, where 50.4 percent of state funding was cut over those five years, according to the report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.