The Ohio House this week passed an important piece of legislation that I believe could lead to cost-saving measures in the state’s colleges and universities and, therefore, perhaps reduce some of the costs for students earning a college degree. At the same time, the bill provides those same colleges and universities with a tool to increase their efficiency and to find ways to better serve their students.

House Bill 384, sponsored by Reps. Tim Schaffer of Lancaster and Mike Duffey of Worthington, gives the State Auditor the ability to conduct performance audits at state institutions of higher learning, including community and technical colleges. I commend the sponsors of this bill for making it a priority, especially at a time when we are looking for ideas to lower the cost of college tuition on families.

What the bill calls for is a process similar to what the Auditor is already able to do at state agencies and school districts, which has yielded very positive results in recent years. For example, since 2011, through performance audits of school districts, the state was able to identify about $77 million in potential cost savings. According to State Auditor Dave Yost, his office has identified potential cost-savings of nearly $96 million in recent years by using performance audits at eight state agencies. That equates to about $33 in potential savings for every dollar spent conducting the audits.

As elected officials, we are accountable for protecting taxpayer dollars and we must remain diligent in our efforts to ensure that they are being spent wisely and responsibly. I think HB 384 is a tremendous step toward making sure that happens.

At the end of the day, this bill is about paving a brighter path for our state down the road. Colleges, universities and technical schools are vitally important in educating the future generations of Ohio. By putting in place a policy that will protect tax dollars, while at the same time, showcase possible improvements or enhancements to make that education experience better, we are helping future individuals and families.

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