Senate Approves Ellis/Shapiro Amendment to Eliminate Tuition Dereg
Amendment will sunset tuition deregulation on Sept. 1, 2008
(Austin)//The Texas Senate today approved an amendment by Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) to SB 1228 to eliminate tuition deregulation by 2008. The legislation rolls back the power the legislature deferred to Texas public colleges and universities in 2003 unless re-enacted by the legislature next session.
Senate Bill 1228 will require the Texas Higher Education Board to study the effects of tuition deregulation to determine how the change has impacted Texas schools and students. The Ellis Amendment would require the Legislative Oversight Committee to review tuition deregulation and make recommendations to the legislature for its continuance or repeal. The report is due January 1, 2007. If no action is taken by the legislature, on September 1, 2008 tuition will be re-regulated and the burden of tuition decisions will return to legislature. Ellis, a long-time opponent of tuition deregulation, chose the 2008 date to give the legislature and Texas universities adequate time to act upon the study, prepare for a return to tuition regulation, but without any 2006-07 budget implications.
"I do not blame the universities for raising tuition, I blame the legislature for abdicating its responsibility and forcing schools to make those decisions," said Ellis. "Texas needs to step up to the plate and fund our universities at a level necessary to ensure they are competitive. If that requires a tax increase or budget cuts elsewhere, it is the job of the legislature to make those tough decisions and face the consequences. My amendment is a simple, fair and balanced approach to solving the tuition rate issue."
Since tuition deregulation was passed in 2003, the statewide average designated resident tuition has increased 43 percent. The percentage increase at select Texas universities is even higher. Since fall 2003, tuition at the University of Texas at Austin has increased 104 percent; tuition at the University of Texas at Dallas has increased 91 percent; tuition at Texas Tech University and the University of Houston has increased 65 percent; tuition at Texas A&M University and Texas A&M at Galveston has increased 61 percent.
"Two years ago, this legislature did not want to make tough decisions on tuition and, instead, passed the buck to the schools," said Ellis. "Now, we are blaming them for doing what they had to do to keep their schools running. It is time to put the horse back in the barn and require the legislature to do its job funding Texas universities."