Saturday, November 14, 2015

HEAVILY REDACTED e-mails illustrate UT System's CONTEMPT for Texas Senate

"For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows..
1 Timothy 6:10

In our interview last week, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick expressed dismay at the timing of the recent proposed UT tuition increase.  The Lt. Governor called the timing of the tuition announcement, "[b]efore they had even cashed the checks we'd sent to them," "offensive."  Yesterday afternoon at 5:00pm (*), we received e-mails as part of an open records request that revealed the offense against the Texas Senate was even greater than the Lt. Governor had realized.

On October 2nd, the day of the U.T. system's announcement of the tuition increase, we filed several open records requests for Regental communications on the subject of tuition.  The overwhelming majority of that request is currently at the Attorney General's office.  The e-mails the U.T. system released to us yesterday don't reveal much about the decision making process, but they did contain an interesting nugget about timing.

Some relevant history: Lt. Governor Patrick's consternation is rooted in the fact that, this past session, the 84th legislature passed something called Tuition Revenue Bonds (which, for the record, we opposed at the time).  The short explanation of TRB's is that they are a controversial financial instrument universities can use to borrow against future tuition revenue to fund construction projects.  In addition to TRB's, the 84th #TXLEGE provided RECORD funding levels to higher education through the traditional appropriations process.

Some important dates: The Texas Senate initially passed HB 100, the TRB bill, on May 19th.  The Texas Senate passed the HB 100 conference committee report on May 30th.  The 84th Texas Legislature adjourned sine die on June 1st.

We highlight these dates because of the following e-mail (page 99 of 106) U.T. Chancellor Bill McRaven wrote to Regents Alex Cranberg and Jeffrey Hildebrand regarding tuition at U.T's Rio Grande Valley campus ON MAY 20TH:

Remember, TRB's initially passed the Texas Senate on May 19th, which means Bill McRaven was mucking around with tuition literally the next day.

Bottom Line: Chutzpah, thy name is U.T.


* -- Friday at 5pm...CLASSIC U.T!!!


Author's Note: There is circumstantial evidence from the released e-mails that suggests the U.T. Regents were seriously considering tuition increases as early as March 27th (NOTE: Abbott's regent nominees were confirmed March 11th) but due to redaction that's something we can only speculate about rather than prove.


Read the full collection of e-mails below:

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