Here’s a great WSJ article on how much universities contribute to the economic well-being of the areas where they’re located. Education is a great investment: money spent on universities leads to inventions that benefit society and educated workers improve the economy.
Sadly, though, one political party in the US loves to cut education spending. In Kansas, Republican Governor Brownback signed a huge tax cut for the rich and then cut education spending to cover the ensuing budget deficit. In Louisiana, under a Republican legislature and former Governor Bobby Jindal, the state gave a tax cut to the rich and then cut higher education funding (not to mention many other services) by tens of millions, but the state is still in a budget crisis of billions of dollars. Of course, not all Republicans are anti-education. Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, a Republican, used tax increases to fund a “landmark overhaul in public education.” His constituents appreciate it; he has an approval rating in the mid-to-high 60s. But he is maligned by conservative Republicans, such as Republican Assemblyman Ira Hansen, who called Sandoval’s actions “a dramatic betrayal.”
Just as income inequality is increasing, it’s quite possible that the the inequality between states will increase. States that invest in education will likely be rewarded. Their educated populations will be better situated to handle globalization and the increased automation of blue collar jobs. States that don’t will likely be left behind. Their full-time residents may care, but those who “reside” there for tax purposes probably couldn’t care less.