Several GOP Presidential Candidates Increased College Spending as Governors

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

At least half a dozen current and former governors are running for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. Two-thirds of that sextet have records on higher education that resemble those of their Democratic counterparts.

Republican presidential candidates arrive on stage for the Republican presidential debate on August 6, 2015 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. From left are:  New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie;  Florida Sen. Marco Rubio;  retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson; Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker; real estate magnate Donald Trump; former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush; former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee; Texas Sen. Ted Cruz; Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul; and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.  AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN        (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

The John William Pope Center looked at the proposals and records of Governors Scott Walker, Chris Christie and John Kasich as well as the vitae of former governors Jeb Bush, Rick Perry and Mike Huckabee. Although all of them claim to emulate Ronald Reagan, of the sitting governors, only Scott Walker comes close to this standard while among the retired execs, Rick Perry does.

The others have records that look similar to that of former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, whose policies helped turned the Free State’s budget surplus into a deficit.

What Governor Walker gets a lot of attention for are his proposed higher education budgets and his advisories on downplaying tenure. Less noticed is his actual accomplishment—freezing tuition at state universities.

As governor of Texas, Rick Perry challenged state universities to come up with a college plan with a tuition price tag of $10,000 per year. Several actually came close.

Governors Christie, Kasich, Bush and Huckabee, meanwhile, increased spending on higher education and tried to neutralize the one check and balance state universities have—boards of regents.

Judy Russell contributed to the research for this report.