State’s economy will be impacted as thousands of Texans will lose the chance at an education
[Reprint of Texas Association of Community College statement]
The Texas House of Representatives recently released HB1 and it is evident that community colleges were sacrificed to the state’s budget deficit. At a time of historic student enrollment growth the total cut to community colleges exceeds $767 million. This amount is comprised of $142 million in formula funding cuts from the last budget cycle, $342 million in student enrollment growth not funded, and $283 million reduction in employee group health insurance. These reductions will seriously impact the state’s ability to grow its economy as fewer Texans receive training and educational opportunities at community colleges across the state.
HB1 would close four community colleges. Brazosport College, Frank Phillips College, Ranger College, and Odessa College would all suffer the complete removal of state support. This will effectively end these colleges as viable institutions in their communities. The outcome of this action would be the end of educational opportunities for the more than 12,000 students served by these colleges. The closing of these colleges will mean no dual credit courses for high school juniors and seniors, the closing of workforce programs to educate and train students for industry, and the end of arts and community outreach programs.
TACC Chair, Dr. Richard Rhodes said, “This budget makes it clear that there is no longer a state policy when it comes to community colleges. If a college grows and educates more students the state does not live up to its commitment by funding growth. However, if a college is perceived by state bureaucrats as somehow growing too slowly, the state will cut all of an institution’s funding.” He added, “Community colleges are the future of Texas but this budget proposal seriously reduces our ability to meet the needs of our local communities.”
Community colleges in Texas are drivers of the state’s economy accounting for $1.6 billion of the state’s economy each year. “With this level of formula funding cuts, the creation of a $283 million unfunded employee health insurance cost, and the closure of four colleges, Texas will suffer.” said Dr. Rey Garcia, TACC President. “Communities across Texas will face smaller colleges, offering fewer courses, with fewer support services, to fewer students” he continued.
Community colleges are the largest sector of higher education in Texas enrolling over 735,000 students this past fall. Over the past five years enrollment in community colleges has increased 34% or 187,000 students. Over 70% of all freshman in Texas are enrolled at a community college.
Texas Association of Community Colleges • 1304 San Antonio, Suite 201 • Austin, TX 78701