Wednesday, February 22, 2017

About SB 18 -- An Open Letter to Chairman Kel Seliger....

"Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord."
Colossians 3:20

Dear Chairman Seliger,

I had to work during today's hearing on SB 18.  Had I been able to attend the hearing, I would have testified on the bill without taking a position.  Consider this note the equivalent of written testimony.

First things first, thank you for your attention to the tuition issue.  As we discussed at TPPF's policy orientation, I think a wide range of options should be on the table for the tuition issue.  Furthermore, I want to state publicly that considering the degree to which we haven't always seen eye to eye on higher education policy, for you to consider this bill with the promptness that you have is a tangible action I notice and appreciate.

That being said, SB 18 makes me nervous.

Specifically, SB 18 only ends mandatory tuition set asides.  The Universities are still free to engage in the practice, it's just no longer required.  Thus, I'm afraid SB 18 will produce a lot of sound and fury (and inflame the identity politics crowd) without changing much on the ground.

SB 19 is a much stronger approach.  A hard tuition freeze would be a tangible step over which the University of Texas Board of Regents various governing bodies of the various public universities could not defy the legislature.  Furthermore, it would be a lot harder for the House to kill it would be significantly more likely to attract meaningful bi-partisan support.

Thus, I encourage you hold a hearing on SB 19 at the earliest practical date.

But again, thank you for making this issue a priority.  Indeed, I'm pleased that you've already voted it out of committee before I'd even sat down to write this note.  I look forward to seeing similar action on SB 19 shortly.

Adam Cahn
Austin, TX
February 22, 2017

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