Victoria College pushes for better state funding

Gabriella Canales By Gabriella Canales

Jan. 8, 2017 at 11:06 p.m.
Updated Jan. 9, 2017 at 12:15 a.m.

About eight pages of bills submitted could possibly affect the Victoria College this early into the 85th legislative session.

However, the bills could either collapse or be combined.

"Some of them are in complete opposition of each other," college president David Hinds said.

This will be the first legislative session where Hinds would be involved in the process, he said. The Texas Association of Community Colleges is an advocacy group for community college legislation.

"We are told over and over it's going to be a tight budget," Hinds said.

State funding is about 20 percent of the college's budget, he said.

Topics of bills already filed include campus carry, authority to offer baccalaureate programs, and textbook tax exemptions.

One proposed bill would reverse previous legislation allowing guns on campus. Hinds said he doesn't think such legislation affects Victoria College because few of its students carry guns on campus.

A bill to allow community colleges to offer four-year degrees would not change Victoria College's mission, Hinds said. The college would not pursue offering baccalaureate degrees because of its relationship with the University of Houston-Victoria, he said.

The college would be in favor of textbook tax exemptions, Hinds said.

House Bill 350 would allow for a tax break for seven consecutive days in January and seven consecutive days in August.

"Anything giving a break on students is good thing," he said.

Several bills are in opposition of one another and have competing interests, he explained.

Because it is the beginning stages, there is no dual credit legislation, he said.

"Whatever does come out would affect us, though," he said. "I will be shocked if there is not something on dual credit."

Victoria College serves about 600 students through dual credit, he said.

"We'll constantly have to watch for unfunded mandates when the Legislature decides it's good for us to do something, but doesn't necessarily provide the funding for us to do it to be able to operate," Hinds said.

The Community College Association of Texas Trustees is another group active in keeping communication with the legislators as well. Victoria College board member Ron Walker is on the organization's board of directors.

The association and its members advocate for the advancement of community college education while increasing recognition of the value and positive impact of community colleges to economic development and growth of the state of Texas.

State Rep. Geanie Morrison, R-Victoria, and Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, listen to and talk with college officials and have understood and appreciate the college's role, Hinds said.

"They understand the value of what we are bringing to the area," he said.

A focus on higher education funding for the state should be a priority, he said.

"During the recovery period from January 2010 to January 2016, the U.S. economy added 11.6 million jobs. Of those jobs, 11.5 million went to workers with some college education," he said, reading from a report to the Office of the Governor. "Of the 7.2 million jobs lost during the recession, workers with only a high school education or less lost 5.6 million and recovered only about 1 percent of the 11.6 million new jobs. These sobering numbers make reaching the overarching goal of 60x30TX vitally important if Texas is to enhance its prosperity and achieve pre-eminence in a global economy."

With that program, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board's goal is to have 60 percent of Texas residents have some college education or a college degree by 2030.



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