TACT Spring Conference

The 82nd Legislative Session has just begun, and everyone is already buzzing about the proposed budget cuts for the upcoming biennium.  Texas Higher Education will be receiving the largest cuts across the board.  The TEXAS Grant Scholarship fund will be reduced by 41% while higher education’s general fund will be cut by at least 7.6%, a total of $1.7 billion.  This does not include the reduced contribution to the Teacher Retirement System and Optional Retirement Plan.  So what can you do to ensure that your concerns are heard by your elected officials?

TACT Executive Director in Austin American-Statesman

Below is TACT Executive Director Chuck Hempstead’s letter to the editor published in today’s Austin American-Statesman, regarding the article sent to you on January 10.  Please view the letter below, and feel free to contact us with any thoughts.

“Re: Jan. 10 article "Pressure building to boost graduation rates, cut budgets."

Incentive funding for Texas higher education is when then-state Sen. Bill Ratliff rewarded universities for deploying career, tenured professors, rather than less expensive alternatives, in undergraduate classrooms.  Incentive funding is the Legislature providing additional scholarships to students who cannot afford escalating tuition without it.   

Incentive funding is not to create unfunded mandates while carving a larger slice from a diminishing appropriations pie and blindly wishing that if only the faculty worked harder, all other graduation rate variables will recede and we'll find ourselves with more, younger degree-holders.

Will corporate employment recruiters start asking, "How fast did you graduate to make room for someone else?" Or will they stick with, "What do you know that you can contribute?"

New Service for Members

In order for TACT Members to follow all of the twists and turns with what is expected to be an exciting legislative session, we have included a “Legislative Tracker” on the TACT website. It can be found here. It contains a list of bills that TACT is currently following, as well as a link to all the information about the bill, including the complete text, history, and current status in the Legislature.

Austin American-Statesman Editorial Board Agrees with TACT

Today in the Austin American-Statesman the Editorial Board penned this Editorial that agrees with TACT about the harmful nature of Outcome Based Higher Education standards. They argue that during this time of budget shortfalls for the state that higher education on all levels shouldn’t be forced to make cuts when enrollment rates are surging at more than 12.2% for two-year public schools.

Why You Should Get Involved TODAY.

House Appropriations Committee Chair Jim Pitts told a group of Capitol insiders on Tuesday, “If you never had a lobbyist before, you better go and get one.” Fortunately, TACT enjoys the services of a registered lobbyist, and your profession would be well served by having a larger membership contributing towards that expense.

Chairman Pitts predicted that the introduced Appropriation Bill will include “significant cuts to Higher Education, and that is before any enrollment growth is even considered, as it is the highest area of discretionary spending.” His intention is that the bill as finally adopted will be less punishing. He is hopeful that the Legislature will use the rainy day fund to close the gap of the current biennial shortfall, but was pessimistic about using it to address the future structural deficit. Unfortunately, it was just reported today that further budget cuts will be required. Now that everything is on the table, college financial aid has become a new target for cuts.

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