University Performance Based Funding Back for 2017

Republican Senate Higher Education Committee Chairman Kel Seliger and Democratic Committee Member Kirk Watson agreed this morning that university performance based funding legislation will be re-introduced during the 85th Texas Legislature, particularly to promote the new 60X30TX Higher Ed goals document. They appeared at a Texas Tribune Event.

Community colleges already operate within a performance based model.

While the Legislature appropriated a significant increase to higher education last year, universities are playing catch-up from significant cuts in 2011, and some state leaders are talking about rescinding the tuition-setting authority that had been delegated to regents last decade. At that time, the statute also called for setting aside 20 percent of tuition increases for the most financially needy students, but it has recently been characterized as a hidden tax, according to Senator Watson. Chairman Seliger said he pushed for additional funding for the Texas GRANT scholarship program last session, even though a significant increase pushed the program cost to near three-quarters of a billion dollars.

Senator Watson said that the Legislature sometimes funds programs at the least it can get away with, as opposed to first determining what level of quality we want, then finding the money to accomplish that. Chairman Seliger countered that taxpayers have spoken that they do not wish to be taxed further for additional program expenses. Both agreed that the “optics” are bad that higher ed continues to ask for additional money when the compensation packages for administrators have risen significantly in the past few years.

Senator Watson quoted Higher Education Commissioner Raymund Parades that there are two primary reasons that more students don’t finish their degrees, and both cost money: students are not sufficiently prepared for higher education work when they arrive on campus, and that, increasingly, students come from economically disadvantaged families who can’t afford college.