Since 2003 when the Texas Legislature gave public universities the right to set their own tuition, there have been attempts to change it. Efforts thus far have failed, even as tuition fees have risen as much as 148 percent in the last 15 years. However, this year in the Senate there is a growing momentum supporting change.
Multiple bills have been filed to slow the pace of tuition, freeze it or lower college costs. Bills the Senate Higher Ed Committee is considering today are:
For years, TACT has used the Hazlewood Act as an example of a legislative unfunded mandate to universities that should be fully funded or reformed to limit the costs. If unchecked, various growth estimates have projected future costs at hundreds of millions of dollars.
On Thursday, Texas House Higher Education Chair JM Lozano filed HB 3766 to rein in the costs currently absorbed by universities to provide free education to the children of veterans. While the details are being debated, the bill does three things:
TACT Board Members spent last Friday visiting elected officials and their staff members pushing for issues deemed most important by faculty last year in the TACT Issues Survey. Discussions ranged from unfunded mandates (Hazlewood Act) to public education funding to the Senate Finance Bill deleting $1 Billion in Special Item appropriations.
We live in a world of quantitative goal achievement – and the current Texas Legislature is no different. Many bills have been filed to help “hit your numbers” – but at what cost? What used to be called “butts in seats” is giving way to “feet on stage” (graduation).
With several critical issues looming this Legislative Session including a faculty hiring freeze and elimination of $1 billion in “special item” funding, this Legislative Day takes on added significance. We have thus far secured meeting times with the Senate Committee on Higher Education, Senate Committee on State Affairs and the House Committee on Appropriations. Should you desire, we will also schedule a meeting with your own district representative.