Texas professors and prison guards have more in common besides trying to keep rowdy bunches in line; they also covet a lot more of your tax dollars.

After the Texas Department of Criminal Justice requested a 19 percent budget increase, about half of which would go to raise guard salaries, Texas higher education institutions asked last week for an 18 percent boost. Surely, some of this will filter down to faculty – those same tenured professors who teach a mere 1.9 courses per semester at the state’s research universities.

But there won’t be much incentive for greater efficiency if universities have their way, as Texas Higher Education Commissioner Raymond Paredes proposed just $100 million in incentive funding, only 1 percent of appropriations. Under incentive funding championed by Governor Rick Perry, universities’ funding is appropriately linked to results, such as number of degrees issued.

Paredes testified that Texas costs are higher per degree issued than other states because students take longer to earn their degrees. Here’s a solution: reduce the in-state subsidy for students who take longer than four years to complete their undergraduate education.

Texas ranks third among all states on the share of state taxes spent on higher education. State higher education appropriations are higher in real dollars today than in 1970, but universities’ real operating costs have grown 59 percent.

One cause of this growing inefficiency is tenured faculty teaching fewer classes. Only by separating teaching and research budgets and linking faculty compensation to classes taught, student satisfaction, and research dollars raised can universities control their costs and, thus, tuition and their ever-growing appetite for appropriations.

That’s a far cry from modern academia, where tenured faculty are the inmates running the asylum through compensation unrelated to performance and their dominant role in the accreditation oligopoly. Linking higher education expenditures to results will ensure current funds are spent efficiently – an essential step before Texas taxpayers are saddled with a bigger burden.

– Marc Levin