February 11, 2016 7:30 AM
Majority Whip Matt Ramsey will introduce a bill and matching constitutional amendment that would limit increases in tuition and fees within the University System of Georgia to the rate of inflation. House Bill 977 and House Resolution 1326 should get their first readings in the House on Thursday.
The constitutional amendment authorizes the General Assembly to limit tuition and fee increases via the enabling legislation of HB 977. If approved, voters will be asked:
Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to authorize the General Assembly to prevent increases in tuition or fees at institutions of the University System of Georgia from exceeding the rate of inflation on an annual basis?
According to the legislation, the Georgia Student Finance Commission would determine the inflation rate to be used in setting the following academic year’s tuition in April. Average tuition and fees would be calculated separately for two-year and four-year institutions, and would not decrease in the case of an inflation rate less than zero. The enabling legislation also specifies that for any given year, the limit on tuition and fee increases could be waived by a majority vote of the Senate Higher Education Committee and the House Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee.
Some lawmakers have expressed frustration that they have no control over the University System’s finances, which are by and large determined by the Board of Regents. While some might argue this is a way for the General Assembly to assert some control, others might recall other attempts at price controls that led to unforeseen consequences.