Dan Patrick Wants More Cuts and Less Scholarships at Texas Universities

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Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick must be jealous of all his buddies getting slammed in the press, because why else would he be rambling on about how the legislature has short changed institutions of higher learning in Texas?

It wasn’t that long ago that deregulating tuition was all the rage with Republicans and now that tuition and student debt are through the roof, Patrick is pointing fingers at the Universities that raised tuition instead of the legislators that cut funding.

The Texas Tribune reported that, “UT-Austin, for instance, the percentage of state support in the university’s budget fell from 47 percent in 1984 to 12 percent in 2014.”

It seems everyone can agree that tuition increases have had a negative impact, but the solutions offered return the issue to a partisan battle. Democrat Mary Gonzales filed a bill in 2015 to re-regulate tuition, but Patrick’s idea is for Universities to start “scrubbing” their own budgets and cutting salaries.

Speaking of cutting salaries, maybe he should ask our indicted Attorney General why he is still paying an employee $14,000 a month in state taxpayer dollars while he campaigns for Ted Cruz on the national stage? Patrick said he was disgusted by one administrator’s salary of $400,000, but what about the multi-million dollar salaries of football coaches who are heavily influential in determining who gets many of these athletic scholarships?

Oh right, I’ve heard this one before, football makes money. But, Ph.D. students and tier one researchers innovating medical breakthroughs and entirely new industries? Meh.

Patrick suggested cutting 20% of tuition increases by eliminating the 20% mandatory set aside for scholarships, work-study, and other financial aid programs. So his answer to addressing student debt is to make it harder for students to access funds for higher learning altogether.

This isn’t a solution to our problem of student debt or rising tuition costs, it is more of the same cost-shifting to avoid accountability that we have always gotten from Republicans who view college campuses as an anathema to conservative values. If they cared about students gaining access to higher education, maybe they should have spent time appropriating dollars to make sure more students had a place on campuses instead of just more guns.

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About Author

Joe Deshotel

Joe was born and raised in Beaumont, Tx, but live music and politics brought him to Austin. He has worked in and around government and elections for over a decade including for a member of US Congress, the Texas Legislature, the Mayor of Austin. He currently serves as Communications Director for the Travis County Democratic Party. He is most interested in transportation, energy and technology issues. He also likes Texas Hold'em and commuting on his electric skateboard. Follow me on Twitter at @joethepleb.

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