Colleges Funnel Fees to Stave Off Reforms

Monday, May 21, 2012

The state’s 15 community colleges — facing a Patrick administration plan to control student fees and seize oversight of the schools — are using those same fees to pay for a high-priced Beacon Hill lobbyist to fight the governor’s proposal.

The Massachusetts Community College Trustees’ Association, a shadowy consortium of college officials, shelled out $51,480 to lobbyist Michael J. Muse last year to tout spending bills and legalized gambling, using money that comes from student fees, as well as textbook and food revenues. Last month, the group asked Muse to report on Gov. Deval Patrick’s wide-ranging reforms, citing “concern and a need for us to act quickly.”

“That is entirely reprehensible and should be investigated,” said David Tuerck of the watchdog Beacon Hill Institute. “There should be no student fees, no revenue from the community colleges used for lobbying. If those funds are being used for this purpose, they are not going toward educating students. That means state taxpayers are on the hook for the money that is being diverted for lobbying.”

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