Collective bargaining bill could hike tuition by $2K per year at Virginia’s public colleges and universities

Collective bargaining bill could hike tuition by $2K per year at Virginia’s public colleges and universities

Virginia’s public colleges and universities are among the most expensive in the nation. A proposal moving through Richmond would make those costs even higher.

Tuition for higher education in Virginia could spike by more than $2,000 a year under a new bill in Richmond that reduces student and taxpayer power at the bargaining table.

The Virginia House of Delegates passed House Bill 582 on Feb. 6, and it is now awaiting action in the Senate. HB 582 would insert highly political government worker labor unions into contract negotiations between public employees and state and local governments – a practice known as collective bargaining. That puts taxpayers and students on the hook for higher costs.

Virginia’s public colleges and universities are already among the nation’s most expensive for students, with tuition, fees, and room and board costing an average of more than $24,000 for four-year colleges, according to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.

A 2002 report from the World Bank shows collective bargaining increases employment costs by 15% in the United States. According to the recent Department of Planning and Budget Fiscal Impact Statement on the bill, each 1 percent increase to would equal almost $41.7 million in increased costs for higher education in Virginia.

If these estimates hold true, the collective bargaining bill moving through Richmond would require a tuition increase of $625 million, or $2,050 per student for the more than 300,000 students enrolled in Virginia’s public institutions of higher education.

Virginia isn’t budgeting for $625 million in additional higher education compensation costs. But that money has to come from somewhere, with either taxpayers or university students needing to pick up the tab.

It’s one thing to pay for quality – students enrolled in Virginia’s fine educational institutions are clearly willing to do that.

But are Virginia students willing to pay over $2,000 more a year so that school employees can engage in collective bargaining?

That may be more than HB 582’s advocates ever bargained for.

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