Arizona lawmakers: Let's put poor kids in college loan debt!
Phoenix -- Arizona lawmakers, faced with the prospect of losing their undisputed title of Lowest Average State Legislature IQ in the Guinness Book of World Records to Virginia, took drastic steps last Thursday to undo the damage to their reputation.
"Look," said Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills. "We promised Mitt we wouldn't touch a transvaginal ultrasound bill until after November, and in the meantime, we're losing credibility with the late-night comedians. We had to do something!"
That "something" turned out to be a bill that will require all Arizona undergraduate students at the three state universities to contribute at least $2,000/year toward the cost of their tuition, which now exceeds $9,000/year. The proposed bill calls for grant money to be reduced accordingly. Students who are without means to pay their "fair share" will be told to apply for student loans. The bill narrowly passed out of the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday.
Supporters of the bill said students should have more "skin in the game." Contending that $2,000/year plus an estimated $1,500 for books and miscellaneous expenses is still "only $14,000" over the course of a 4-year undergraduate career, lawmakers dismissed the protests of about 100 students as "a bunch of sissies whining."
"This is much less than the cost of the new car you're sure to get when you graduate," said Rep. Michelle Ugenti, R-Scottsdale. "My daddy spent more than that on my convertible when I graduated from ASU. It was only a Mustang, and I wanted a Corvette, but he told me, 'Welcome to life, honey.' And that's what I want to say to all you complainers today: 'Welcome to life.'"
Kavanagh, agreeing, said, "Hey, this isn't much money. Look at the Chevy Sonic. I wouldn't trust a kid of mine in that aluminum can on wheels. And we're asking you to put less into your education than a crap car would cost you."
"Wait a minute," student Meagan Morgan of Gilbert objected. "I'm driving a 1996 Saturn with 200,000 miles on it that cost me fifteen hundred dollars. I won't be driving a new anything in the foreseeable future!"
"This is the USA," she was reminded by Rep. John Fillmore, R-Apache Junction. "In the USA, we can all dream of driving cheap new cars."
Several of the students who signed in to express their opposition to the bill declared that the annual tuition was only a small part of their education expenses.
"Skin in the game?" quipped Mike Evans, 22, of West Mesa. "I sell my plasma twice a week to help pay for a cockroach-infested apartment and my car insurance. I know it's not 'skin,' but don't body fluids count for something?"
Rep. Fillmore offered this to placate the upset student: "I wasn't going to say nothing yet, but one of the members of the Arizona Board of Regents needs a kidney transplant, and if one of you kids from the wrong side of the tracks are a match-up, I just bet he'd pay you the $14,000. " As students booed, he added, "Well, okay, it's not likely, but think outside the block here. You could advertise extra body parts on eBay or Craigslist and probably make even more!"
Further attempts to secure student buy-in were made, as Rep. Kavanagh assured the assembled students that athletes would be exempt from paying any tuition out of their own pockets. "See, instead of spending all that time doing your homework in high school, you could have been playing football or basketball," he chuckled, shaking a finger at several scowling young people.
Rep. Ugenti added, "I played rugby when I was in college, so you know I'm tough. Step right up and I'll arm-wrestle any one of you pansies."
Rep. Justin Olson, R-Mesa, said, "If every student has to pay a couple thousand a year toward their education, then ASU can adjust the costs for everyone else. I got two kids in college, and since they're C students, I have to pay the whole nine yards. If you pay out, it'll mean I have to pay less," he finished, triumphantly.
Rep. Fillmore revealed that he had not gone to college because times were rough in 1969. "I had to go into politics instead, and I'm not near as rich as I could of been if I'd got my degree."
Kavanagh cited statistics suggesting that a college degree earns its recipient nearly a million dollars more over the course of a career. "Well, yeah, the research is from ten years ago, so just think how much more true it is today," he argued.