Wednesday, April 17, 2019

#TXLEGE: Consensus and Dissention on University Tuition

"Wealth gained by dishonesty will be diminished,
But he who gathers by labor will increase."
Proverbs 13:11

[Note: The hearing can be viewed here; our testimony is 90ish minutes in.]

We testified this morning in favor of HB 132 (Gonzalez): "Relating to a limitation on the amount of tuition charged by public institutions of higher education"; this is the tuition freeze bill we discussed in January.

Gonzalez did a really good job laying out her bill.  She explained how public university tuition has exploded across Texas.  This is personally relevant to Gonzalez seeing how, apparently, she's just completed her Phd.  What we really loved, however, Gonzalez pointed out that shuffling off tuition to the Board of Regents' was a way for the legislature to duck responsibility.


Gonzalez made most of the points we wanted to make.  During our testimony we added that, while most of the problems in higher ed. policy are federal, that was no reason for the state of Texas to make things worse.  We've thought that how Texas public universities set tuition rates was a particularly bad system for at least five years.

That was where things got interesting.  Following our testimony, Chairman Turner felt compelled to explain that, while he was very sympathetic to the complaint, tuition reform needed to be accompanied by more state spending.  We're familiar with the argument.  As we explained to Chairman Turner, we're sympathetic to the argument, but we need tuition restraints with teeth up-front.  We were about to make a further point about cost controls when...

...John Smithee spoke up.  As the only member of the committee who was in the legislature when the current system passed, Smithee called it "a vote I wish I could have back."  Smithee then made the same points about expensive buildings and excessive bureaucracy this author would have made.

Bottom Line: The breakdown of support/opposition to this bill was very intersting....


Political Note for Republicans: There were (at least) four Democrat bills dealing with tuition on today's docket.  Zero from Republicans.  If you want to know why you're getting killed with the under-40 crowd, that would be a good place to look....

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