That semester, I was taking a class and had to write a research paper. One of the things that had long intrigued me but I’d never had time to research was whether Virginia should have a university system, like North Carolina or Maryland, for its network of 4-year public institutions. In the course of doing the research, I was directed to JLARC reports about the increasing cost of higher ed, the most recent one at that time having been issued in October 2013 (pdf). One powerful legislator with whom I spoke was livid that student athletic fees had increased so much so quickly at certain institutions, including ODU. (Look at Chapter 2 of the report.)
One of the benefits of a university system is that Virginia legislators simply don’t have time to oversee the universities and don’t know what’s going on – at least not in a timely manner. That’s why they ordered the JLARC studies. Take a look at the recommendations (click to enlarge) and you’ll see exactly the source of HB 1897.
I really wish this had been reported on earlier. The issue of the costs of higher education has been in the news for several years now. At the very least, the public could have been made aware of JLARC’s findings so it wouldn’t look like this bill came out of nowhere.
Full disclosure: I am a member of the faculty at ODU.