UT Advocates Gear Up For Tough Legislative Session

One week out from the start of the Texas Legislature’s every-other-year meeting, our mouths are set in a grim line.

The funding prognosis for The University of Texas — and for higher ed throughout the state — is not good.

Or as Texas Exes public policy director Leticia Acosta puts it: “This could be the ugliest session ever.”

Even before the session, there were indications that higher ed was going to lose more than its recession-time share.

When state agencies were asked to cut their budgets last year, education absorbed 41 percent of those cuts, even though the sector represents only 12.5 percent of the state budget.

Now, with a budget shortfall in the billions, even deeper cuts loom. 

“It’s really depressing. We’ve hit that point where it really affects the student experience here,” Acosta says. “That’s financial aid, that’s the student-faculty ratio, that’s class sizes, that’s access to advisors, that’s innovative teaching programs, that’s graduation rates.”

All that is more than just unfortunate for UT students. It’s also bad for the state, because higher education isn’t a consumption item on a budget — it’s an investment in future prospects and all-around economic vitality. (Right-leaning New York Times editorial writer David Brooks moves beyond the usual partisan arguments and makes a great case for investing in education and other key sectors in his most recent column.)

Here in Texas, research schools — especially powerhouses like UT and Texas A&M — are innovation hubs. For every dollar invested in UT, for instance, $18 is gained. Cut the funding, and you cut the returns on investment, too.

But this isn’t just another depressing hard-times story. You’ve got the chance to actually DO something. Namely, consider becoming a UT Advocate for Higher Education.

Being an advocate involves getting updates on UT’s needs and how you can help, from writing letters to making phone calls to descending on the Capitol for the fifth annual Orange & Maroon Legislative Day on Feb. 15. Get on the list and get involved here.


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