Special Item Funding

The Joint Interim Committee on Higher Education Formula Funding met today for only the second, but possibly last, time. Their report is due in June. You may remember that last session, the initial Senate Finance Bill zeroed out the $1.1 Billion formerly known as Special Item Funding for universities. TACT, with others, spent much effort reinstating most of the funds to the approved budget, but they’re still on the firing line.

A consensus today was that non-formula funding should face a sunset process periodically to determine if it is still necessary, say, program start-up funds after the program is established and generating formula funding. Other examples, such as A&M agencies, never will generate formula funds and will always need outside funding. Many higher ed programs are more research and service in nature, and eventually provide the state with excellent return on investment.

One Committee Member wanted to make sure that this effort was not a money grab away from higher ed, but one of the co-chairs responded that this is not an appropriations committee, so discussion of net funding was out side the scope of the committee’s charge.