Advocate Editorial Board opinion: Higher education needs support from state

By the Advocate Editorial Board
Aug. 24, 2013 at 3:24 a.m.

Higher education is an essential part of the complex process needed to create and promote economic success. Our state has developed a reputation as a business-friendly place, but our education system leaves much to be desired. This dilemma is emphasized by the state legislature's failure, once again, to pass tuition revenue bonds for institutes of higher learning across Texas.

After the state Legislature was called back for three special sessions past the regular 140-day session, it is disappointing to see this important issue was not addressed. Granted, this is not only the fault of the Legislature. Gov. Rick Perry is the one who calls special sessions and determines what topics can be addressed. According to a June 10 article from the Texas Tribune, 69 members of the state House sent Perry a letter requesting he add the bonds to the special session that began May 27. Perry's decision to not add the issue to the special sessions is disappointing, especially considering the last tuition revenue bond was passed in 2006.

This neglect of the state's institutes of higher learning is not only disappointing. It also means some schools will have to delay major projects they need to move forward and grow. Larger universities, such as the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M, have plenty of wealthy alumni to help fill in the gaps, but smaller schools, such as our own University of Houston-Victoria, are left hanging. UHV requested $88.15 million to expand its campus and build new buildings. Now that the tuition revenue bonds have been passed over, UHV and other schools are left to find ways to afford expansion through other means.

This disregard for the needs of higher education in Texas is short-sighted and ignorant. Gov. Perry is spending thousands, perhaps millions of dollars campaigning in other states to attract businesses to Texas, but how can we support these prospective businesses if we do not have a trained workforce? The economic implications of ignoring or postponing the needs of higher education will be overwhelmingly negative. The money spent encouraging businesses already established in other states would be better used as an investment in the next generation of Texas' workforce. When we put off and ignore the needs of higher education, we are hurting ourselves and our future.

So once again, UHV and other state schools must wait for the next legislative session to request much-needed funds for expansion and improvements. We encourage legislators to make time to consider the tuition bond revenue during the next session. Institutions across Texas have waited for seven years for our state to prove it cares about the quality of education its residents receive. The longer this important issue is ignored, the further behind we will fall.

It is time for the state of Texas to recognize higher education for the vital resource it is.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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