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Several readers wrote in with strong critiques of the idea of banning out-of-state tuition premiums.  

The most common line of argument was just the loss of revenue. That’s true, assuming nothing else changed, but I assumed other things would change. Whether that means averaging out the existing revenue over all students (boo!), pressuring the state for more funding (yay!) or making up the difference through enrollment gains (boo and yay) would depend on local decisions.

A few readers pointed me to some reciprocity agreements among Western states that already work similarly to what Maine does with several Northeastern states. The existence of precedent in multiple regions of the country suggests that the idea isn’t outlandish.

The most compelling philosophical argument against it came from a reader who noted that the in-state discount is supposed to reflect state taxes that residents have paid. That argument would hold water if only one state charged taxes. But they all do, in their various ways, so it seems a wash. The fact that my daughter attends college in Maryland doesn’t make my New Jersey taxes go away. Out-of-state students at Rutgers would get the benefit of those. (And with many flagship universities, state support is such a small part of the budget that any sense of proportion would reduce the premiums drastically from their current levels.)

The example of K-12 pushes in the other direction, too. We didn’t have to live in Freehold for a full year before our kids became eligible to attend the public schools here for free. If every district runs on taxes, then the fact that my previous year’s taxes went to a different district is neither here nor there.

Some tried an argument based on a regressive redistribution of wealth, but I don’t buy that. Making out-of-state tuition more affordable would both allow more students of modest means to attend and reduce the incentive for schools to spend extra effort recruiting the affluent. Economic diversity on campus would likely increase. A more compelling argument came from some folks at regional publics who suggested that they would lose students, but again, I think that’s only true if it only happens in one state. If they all do it—presumably through federal action—the effects should mostly cancel out. There are a few outliers—Vermont leaps to mind, given that the most of UVM’s students are from out of state—but that doesn’t strike me as a reason to defeat an idea that would be of national benefit.

Thanks to everyone who wrote.  

The sky here has been some strange colors this week. On Wednesday afternoon it was roughly the color of café au lait, but it smelled like a cross between pipe smoke and a barbecue. I can only imagine what it must be like in Canada.

I’m old enough to remember when this sort of thing didn’t happen, at least on the East Coast.

Sending good wishes to everyone out there with asthma, long COVID, bronchitis or anything else lung-related. This is nasty.

Last Sunday we visited The Boy at his new apartment in New York City.  He started his first full-time job on Monday.

He has officially launched.

A few observations:

  • Even on a Sunday afternoon, driving into the city is a nightmare. We couldn’t take the train because we had too much cargo; he couldn’t fit everything the first time around, so we brought the leftovers. Having lived in N.J. off and on for a long time, I usually take a train to get to the city. I don’t drive into the city very often, and Sunday’s trip reminded me why. Judging by what I saw, the local police have simply given up enforcing rules against double parking. The liberties people took, just parking in the middle of active lanes, were astonishing. Having been spoiled by trains, I was unnerved. There won’t be another cargo trip. It’s trains or nothing.
  • Buses yield for nobody and nothing. When three lanes collapse into one at a tunnel entrance and you’re up against a line of buses, it’s best just to wait them out.
  • Signaling a turn is considered a provocation.
  • Scooters and e-bikes don’t mix well with cars.
  • The last few times I was in the city, I didn’t see any yellow cabs. They seem to be making a comeback. Tech investors, make of that what you will.
  • If you grew up in the suburbs, nothing can quite prepare you for seeing a galley kitchen. It helps to think of it as a step up from camping.
  • Few sentences are more anxiety-inducing for a parent than “I’d like you to meet my girlfriend’s parents.”
  • Happily, there were no major announcements. And her parents were lovely.
  • I used to at least feign shame upon using the cellphone flashlight to read menus.  Now I just let it fly. If restaurants don’t like it, they can turn up the lights.
  • New York City prices are odd. Rents and restaurants are expensive, but produce and electronics are weirdly cheap. TB’s rent is wild for the size of the place, but being able to go without a car softens the blow somewhat. And he has access to some pretty great free concerts in Central Park.
  • All of that said, there is no greater people-watching location than New York City.  
  • People there walk in pairs or groups. Far fewer single walkers than in other places.  
  • I tip my cap to the dog walkers. They are unsung heroes. How you keep a golden retriever in a tiny apartment, I don’t know, but apparently people do.  Here’s hoping they had the good sense not to walk in the smoke.

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