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30 Minutes = Understanding the 2021 TX Legislative Session

If you do nothing else to learn about the next legislative session and what leaders are doing to keep higher education on the forefront - watch for TACT First Alerts and watch this video.

The Texas Tribune hosted a lunchtime webinar series last month called “The Future of Higher Education.” One of the webinars, called “Making Policy,” included interviews with Harrison Keller, TX Commissioner of Higher Education, and Chris Turner, Chair of the House Higher Education Committee. According to the speakers, the key focus is re-skilling workers now unemployed from the pandemic and keeping money towards higher education, including university research.

Keller outlines how the 60x30 plan needs to be re-worked to incorporate the masses of displaced workers. As a part of the Cares Act, THECB (The Higher Education Coordinating Board), created re-skilling and other grants. As more research is needed and tuition/student debt increases as state funds decrease, Keller touts that higher ed needs to be re-imagined.

Chairman Turner reported that Texas is facing a $4.6 billion shortfall and his belief is that higher education is the vehicle to grow our economy. He adds that our industry will need continue to make the case for investing in the future in this way. As in past sessions, Turner is advocating tuition revenue bonds to pay for facility upgrades and overhauling these learning facilities.

The Texas Tribune hosted four other conversations with higher ed leaders, which include:

  • The View from the Top - with Tedd Mitchell, Chancellor of the Texas Tech University System, and Brian McCall, Chancellor of the Texas State University System

  • Serving Students in Need - with Jacob Fraire, President/CEO of the Texas Association of Community Colleges, and Ruth Simmons, President of Prairie View A&M University

  • The Academic Transformation - with Wil De Pilar, Vice President for Education at The Education Trust, and Sharra Hynes, Association VP and Dean of Students at Baylor University

  • Workforce is Job #1 - with Drexell Owusu, Senior VP for Education & Workforce at the Dallas Regional Chamber, and Margaret Spellings, President of Texas 2036 and former U.S. Secretary of Education

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