From the Roanoke Times editorial page:
There’s a pile of kindling soaked with gasoline lying on the ground in full view of everyone. So why hasn’t someone lit a match and tossed it in?
The UVA Slush Fund scandal has $2.3 billion dollars confiscated from Virginia taxpayers on dubious pretense. Why isn’t anyone talking about that?
The sheer size of this largess would be enough to provide every student at the University of Virginia a sizeable tuition cut (if not wipe it out entirely) for 10 years.
One could literally build 10 new four-year institutions and endow them all with a similarly sized endowment compared to James Madison University at $70 million each.
Workforce development and economic development? Not only could you provide a free community college education to everyone in the Commonwealth who met a certain criteria — 3.0 GPA? — but if they emerged with a trade or skill, extend to them microfinance credits so that they could start their own businesses right here and compete in a 21st century economy.
To wit, here’s the rundown from the Roanoke Times — and they are deadly accurate in their critique:
Frank Wagner is the clearest. He lists a tuition freeze as part of his platform — but he hasn’t exactly made it a signature item. Perhaps he will once the General Assembly session ends and the Virginia Beach state senator hits the campaign trail. Or perhaps not.
Denver Riggleman proposes to tie tuition increases to inflation — so he’d still allow tuition to increase.
Ed Gillespie mentioned college affordability in his campaign announcement. “Virginia is blessed with some of the oldest and best institutions of higher education in the world,” he said. “But constant tuition hikes and rampant spending are making college increasingly unaffordable for too many students.” That’s a good description of the problem, but not a solution.
Remarkably, Republican Corey Stewart and Democrats Ralph Northam and Tom Perriello don’t even mention the issue at all. Perriello’s campaign website, by the way, is simply devoid of any mention of issues.
In a political environment where populism runs wild, and when polls are indicating a return to the “honorable middle” rather than the wild extremes of the left or the right, the first statewide candidate to truly embrace the problem and aggressively demonstrate a solution?
…that’s going to be defined as leadership.