Higher ed bills to be proposed in 84th Texas Legislature

Eleanor Dearman

The Texas Legislature opens its 84th 140-day session Tuesday at noon. Here are a few bills related to higher education that, if passed, could affect university students statewide.

SB No. 22:

Introduced by Sen. Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo), Senate Bill Number 22 looks at outcome-based funding, a method of distributing funds by the higher education coordinating board based on the number of undergraduate degrees awarded.

In her bill, Zaffirini proposes that for each state fiscal period of two years, public universities will receive a percentage of funds based on metric points. These points are calculated by the institutions based on the number of undergraduate degrees awarded and the percent of degree completion.

SB No. 24:

Senate Bill Number 24, which Zaffirini also introduced, requires members of a university’s governing board, such as the UT System Board of Regents, to attend a training program and take an online orientation course during their first year of membership.

While board members are already trained in areas such as budgeting, policy development and governance upon appointment, the new definition adds information on ethics and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

If passed, the bill mandates board members appointed on or after Sept. 1, 2015 complete this training before voting on budgetary or personnel matters related to the system.

SB No. 233:

Senate Bill Number 233, which Sen. Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown) introduced, would aim to regulate University tuition increases, if passed, by capping the inflation rate for student tuition from year-to-year.

The bill says university tuition for a student in the same financial, academic and residential situations as in previous years could not be increased beyond a set inflation rate. In addition, tuition could not be adjusted more than once per academic year.