Abbott Lists Research Funding Among Emergency Items

Abbott Lists Research Funding Among Emergency Items

A State of the State address, like the better-known State of the Union, is a commonplace civic ritual. Like its federal counterpart, the address is ostensibly used to provide an update of sorts from a chief executive, in this case the governor of Texas, to the legislature.

Often, it’s an opportunity to lay out goals that the governor would like to see legislators act upon, and of course, a chance to do some bragging. This is Texas, after all.

In his first State of the State Tuesday, Gov. Greg Abbott, BBA ’81, Life Member, did both, lauding Texas’ economic dynamism and setting out five so-called emergency items, including research funding for higher education.

Abbott praised the state’s economic power and outlined priorities he claimed would sustain that success in the future, the emergency items. Proposing a state budget to lawmakers, Abbott also counted early education, roads funding, border security, and ethics reform as emergency items.

“We also need to elevate the national research standing of our universities,” Abbott said before a joint session of the Texas Legislature.

“Because of the vital role higher education plays in transforming our state, I’m declaring higher education research initiatives my second emergency item.”

In December, Abbott told reporters that he hoped to elevate the standing of the state’s universities during his term in office, drawing comparisons to another large, diverse, and populous state—California.

“Five of the top 10 public universities in the country are in California with none being from Texas,” Abbott said at the time. “We will begin the process of ensuring that we elevate some of Texas’s elite colleges and universities into the top 10 nationally.”

Last month, Abbott suggested scrapping the controversial Emerging Technology Fund and diverting half of its funding to the Governor’s University Research Initiative, which is designed to recruit world-class faculty. During his campaign for the governorship, Abbott proposed increasing appropriations to the Texas Competitive Knowledge Fund, a program that provides funding for universities to advance faculty excellence and research.

The speech comes as the legislature digs into its biennial session, which goes until summer, during which legislators will develop and approve a budget for the next two years.

Photo by Anna Donlan


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