from the office of State Senator Judith Zaffirini

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Nick Almanza
(512) 463-0121
September 14, 2006

SENATOR ZAFFIRINI, SENATE COMMITTEES REVIEW HIGHER EDUCATION FUNDING, TOP 10% LAW

AUSTIN -- The Senate Subcommittee on Higher Education on Thursday (Sept. 14) heard testimony from state higher education representatives and from budget and education policy specialists during two hearings that reviewed higher education formula funding and the Top Ten Percent Law. Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, chair, said today's hearings were significant steps toward successfully fulfilling the subcommittee's interim charges.

"Each interim charge for which the Subcommittee on Higher Education is responsible makes a promise to students, faculties and institutions to ensure the success of higher education in Texas," said Senator Zaffirini. "Today's hearings provided a critical overview of the costs and funding formulas associated with higher education as well as valued testimony about the effects of the Top Ten Percent Law-two issues vital to improving affordability and accessibility.

Senator Zaffirini, who also serves as vice-chair of the Senate Finance Committee, and Senator Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, chair, co-chaired a joint hearing to examine changes to higher education funding formulas by adopting a cost-based model. They heard testimony and recommendations for future formula funding improvements. The Higher Education Subcommittee then met to study the impact of proposed changes to the Top Ten Percent Law-an initiative created in 1997 guaranteeing admission to any state college or public university for Texas students graduating in the top ten percent of their high school class.

"It is important for legislators to understand how the Top Ten Percent Law affects prospective college students," Senator Zaffirini said. "Today's hearing provided a tremendous opportunity not only to hear from enrollment specialists, school superintendents and higher education policy specialists regarding Top Ten Percent's application, but also to consider recommendations for its improvement."

Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst appointed Zaffirini to chair the subcommittee earlier this month. Subcommittee members are Zaffirini, chair; Senators Kyle Janek, R-Houston; Royce West, D-Dallas; Kip Averitt, R-McGregor; Todd Staples, R-Palestine; and Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands.

Senate Finance Committee members are Ogden, chair; Zaffirini, vice-chair; Senators Averitt; Williams; West; Staples; Janek; Kim Brimer, R-Ft. Worth; Bob Deuell, R-Greenville; Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock; Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen; Jane Nelson, R-Lewisville; Florence Shapiro, R-Plano; and John Whitmire, D-Houston.

The Senate Higher Education Subcommittee will submit their report to the legislature to review prior to the 2007 legislative session that convenes on Jan. 9.

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