Supporting Higher Education
Last Tuesday, I was proud to author House Resolution 56 declaring Jan. 24, 2017 as Texas Southern University Day. Texas Southern University was founded in 1947 in the heart of Houston’s historic Third Ward. Today, Texas Southern University is the 4th largest historically black college and university in the country, with over 8,600 students currently enrolled.
Texas Southern University is vital to District 147, as are the University of Houston and the University of St. Thomas. That is why I will continue to fight for our institutions of higher education.
The legislature deregulated tuition in 2003 marking the end of an era of accountability, accessibility, and affordability in Texas public higher education. Deregulation combined with under funding of our colleges and universities have caused tuition to skyrocket 148 percent, placing a heavy burden on the backs of students and families.
It is time that elected officials take back the responsibility for controlling tuition and expand educational opportunities for Texas students, instead of pricing them out.
Clearing A Path To Transfer
Community colleges are the bridge that often link high school students and four-year universities. Ensuring a seamless transition for students from community colleges is vital, as well as properly funding these institutions and providing them with the resources they need to succeed. Innovative programs like the Early College High School program are doing wonders and helping thousands of high school students begin their college careers on firm ground.
Every session since 2003, I have supported legislation that would repeal the tuition-setting deregulation set in place by the legislature. Since tuition deregulation went into effect in 2003, tuition at Texas colleges and universities has skyrocketed 148 percent, placing the burden of these increased tuition rates on the backs of students and families.
Top Ten Percent
I will continue to defend the Top Ten Percent rule. Because of the current law, Texas universities have seen a greater share of geographic and ethnic diversity. Students admitted under the top ten percent sustain better grade point averages and maintain higher graduation rates than their peers. This invaluable piece of legislation is good public policy, good for Texas universities, and good for Texas students.
Properly Funding Institutions
In response to cuts in higher education funding by the legislature, Texas universities have been forced to raise tuition to keep pace with leading universities across the nation. The legislature needs to properly fund our institutions of higher education to ensure that our children do not need to leave the state to receive an affordable and top-notch college education.
I am committed to improving the quality and affordability of education for the people of Texas. I will continue to keep you updated on this important issue as session progresses.
Chair Garnet Coleman on Release of Committee on County Affairs Interim Report
I am pleased to announce that the Committee on County Affairs Interim Report is now posted and can be viewed here. I want to thank the members of the House Committee on County Affairs: Dustin Burrows; John Lujan; Ramon Romero, Jr.; Leighton Schubert; Stuart Spitzer; Jonathan Stickland; Tony Tinderholt; and Gene Wu. It has been an honor to serve as the Chair with these remarkably hardworking Representatives from all over the state. I greatly appreciate that each and every committee member opened their heart and mind when discussing changes pertaining to Child Protective Services and Criminal Justice reform in order for all Texans to be treated fairly, regardless of their differences.
The Committee thanks each of the agencies, associations, and individuals who contributed their time, testimony, and information to this report. Furthermore, the Committee appreciates the attentiveness to those issues most pressing to the State of Texas.
In order to better address the pressing issue of repairing Child Protective Services and the 8 charges given by Speaker Straus, the County Affairs Committee held hearings across the state in the committee members’ districts of Houston, Lubbock, Tarrant County, Brenham, and San Antonio. The Committee discussed how counties play a vital role in CPS cases and how they will be crucial to improving CPS in the future. Considering that substance abuse is a factor in almost 2/3rds of children entering the CPS system, the committee’s recommendations outline how counties can play a vital role in combatting substance abuse.
These recommendations are set forth in the report to provide a representative set of recommendations for potential study, analysis or future legislative consideration. The recommendations made in the criminal justice portion reflect the work done by the Committee at our Austin hearings regarding the issues brought to light by the Sandra Bland case. The recommendations in the criminal justice portions of the report are the groundwork for The Sandra Bland Act, which I will file this session. Many of the recommendations included in this report could serve as a catalyst for future study or action, both during the 85th legislative session and beyond.
I stand with Speaker Straus and Rep. Rafeal Anchia that President Trump’s Executive Order aimed at preventing Muslims from legally entering our country goes against the values that this country was built on.
The song of the week is “America” by Simon & Garfunkel.