From the Office of State Senator Royce West - District 23

For Immediate Release
CONTACT: LaJuana Barton
(512) 463-0123
February 1, 2007

Senator West discusses Governor's higher ed proposal

AUSTIN - State Senator Royce West (D-Dallas) applauded today's announcement by Governor Rick Perry regarding his Higher Education Budget Proposal. Governor Perry has articulated that the proposal's goal is to provide funding to fuel the state's "Closing the Gap Initiative" as outlined by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

"I applaud Governor Perry for his creativity in crafting a proposal to address the funding needs of Texas' higher education institutions and the financial aid needs of Texas students," said Senator West. "However, I'm troubled by several components of the proposal. The first being the reallocation of more than $614 million requested by the institutions for 'University Special Items.' This funding has historically been used for numerous worthwhile programs and initiatives at the campus level.

"In addition, as we attempt to create a seamless pre-kindergarten through college pipeline, wherein our goal is to graduate more students and have them apply and be admitted to college, I'm concerned with how the proposal will impact the availability of financial aid," Senator West added. "While I have yet to see the actual language, plans include an increased GPA requirement to be eligible for financial aid, accompanied by a repayment clause as opposed to traditional grant assistance strategies.

"And lastly, I have extreme trepidation concerning the elimination of the funding of the Office of Civil Rights Priority Plan. The priority plan addresses matters that have been before the Department of Education since 1973 when the Office of Civil Rights was first ordered to investigate six states, including Texas, regarding the efforts to desegregate their educational systems and vestiges of de jure segregation that still exists at Prairie View A&M University and Texas Southern University," said Senator West. "Obviously, injecting new monies into higher education requires a shifting of budgetary priorities, but we must be careful that objectives are reached in ways that are equitable to the interests of all Texans.

"I look forward to future discussions with Governor Perry about the proposal this session and the lively debate that will no doubt ensue," Senator West said.

For more information, please contact LaJuana Barton or Kelvin Bass at 512-463-0123.