Lt. Governor David Dewhurst came to Houston to give his assessment of the recently completed legislative session. It included a laundry list of items worked on including property tax cuts, stronger penalties for sex offenders and education. Houston Public Radio’s Capella Tucker reports
Another topic talked about was higher education. Lt Governor David Dewhurst:
“We increased funding for higher education by 1.5 billion dollars. That’s a 14 percent increase over the current biennium. And that helps all of our schools here in Houston.”
Those with increased funding include the University of Houston, the University of Texas Health Science Center and MD Anderson Cancer Center. Dewhurst has not selected what issues will be studied in preparation for the next legislature in 2009, but he anticipates elected officials will continue to look at higher education.
“We are putting a lot of new money into higher education but I want to make sure we are doing everything we can to hold down tuition increases, make sure we’ve got enough financial aid so that deserving students can go to college.”
Houston Representative Garnet Coleman says tuition will continue going up as long as it’s deregulated.
“Bring the cost of tuition and the increases or decreases of those rates back to legislative control just like fees are controlled by the legislature. Make sure we make the proper investments in higher education so our state can be competitive.”
While funding for higher education increased generally, community colleges were largely left out. Houston Representative Sylvester Turner:
“We did put more money into community colleges. The Governor has seen fit for his reasons to veto a large chunk of that and I know community colleges, not just in Harris County, but throughout the state are compaigning about that veto. So hopefully there will be an interim on addressing those issues as well as a few others.”
Also in the education area, the TAKS test at the high school level will be phased out and replaced with end of course exams.
At the end his presentation, Lt Governor Dewhurst encouraged people, naming some in the audience, to be involved.
“Literally, we passed, I’m scared to tell you this number, but we passed 1,557 bills. And I tried to read them all, you know… Most of these touch your lives, in some cases every day, and you’ve got to have a relationship with your elected official and talk to them and tell them where we need to go because that’s so important in the democratic process.”
Capella Tucker, Houston Public Radio News.