Executive Director's Column: Legislature Focusing on 60X30TX
by Chuck Hempstead, Executive Director, TACT
Here We Go Again!
When the draft Senate and House budgets were recently released, adding billions of dollars to public education (i.e., teachers’ pay), I remarked to someone in the Capitol, “Well, it looks like TACT already succeeded in one of our legislative issues.” He replied, “LOTS of folks are taking credit for that one.”
TACT has always believed that the better prepared the student we inherit, the better educated the graduate we produce. When the Supreme Court ruled that our public education finance system was miserable (my word, not theirs), though Constitutional, our state political leaders seemed to get the message. This is certainly shaping up to be the public education session, including issues surrounding Hurricane Harvey. We’re even hearing rumors of using the sacrosanct Rainy Day Fund, because when it comes to financial issues in Texas, the needs are pouring.
Article III of the State Budget – Education – is where most of the public money is spent. Sometimes when public education does well, higher education doesn’t. The jury is still out, but legislators are serious about the goals of 60X30TX, the educational plan by which 60 percent of young Texans will have a degree or marketable credential by the year 2030. We’re on pace, but the easy victories have already been won.
The Coordinating Board still thinks performance-based university funding will accelerate educational attainment. Community colleges are already partially funded that way. If the plan is adopted, three percent of university appropriations will be used to reward colleges $500 for each graduate and $1,000 for each at-risk grad. Some say to use the entire $1,500 for only at-risk grads. Some of us say it enriches the already successful, but the plan adoption is iffy unless the appropriation is increased by three percent to fund it, as the Coordinating Board has requested. Maintaining the quality of that degree is at-risk.
TACT Legislative Day last Friday was very successful (you can’t believe how many “fill in the blank” Legislative Days now occur - 15 were there yesterday. I like the rattlesnakes and motorcycle versions). With new chairs of both the Senate and House Higher Education Committees, our educational efforts never rest.