by Chuck Hempstead, TACT Legislative Director
Sine Die has come and gone, but our favorite newsmakers will be back in the fall at least to tackle redistricting and divvy up $16 Billion in federal Covid stimulus monies. Expect the Governor to add additional conservative bills that died during the Regular Session. And while legislative humor is in the eye of the beholder, the Governor has threatened to veto the budget section that funds legislative salaries and those of their staffs in retaliation for a walkout killing some of his priorities.
But back to now. The adopted quarter-trillion dollar budget is similar to the current one. Higher Ed’s $8.6 Billion was supplemented at the last minute by $486 Million for enrollment growth. Unfortunately, the $110 Million for Texas Grant is expected to fund only 56 percent of the eligible students, a number that has been falling.
TACT was extra busy this session, mostly on appropriations issues which affect faculty salaries. We had a Zoom call with Senator Hughes, Chair of State Affairs, which emphasized the need for capital construction on campuses. We battled back two bills which would have weakened tenure and of course provided each legislator with the four-point TACT Legislative Agenda. We shared an unmatched number of updates with TACT members and opportunities for you to make timely contact with your legislators on issues affecting your profession.
So is the 87th Regular Legislature history or the latest dot on the continuum of political tug of war? After four decades of doing this, I might argue the latter. And those of you who have helped carry the weight of higher education in Texas, thank you. That darned rock keeps rolling down hill, and we’ll keep pushing it up again.