Tomorrow, as part of a university-sponsored lobbying effort called “Invest in Texas”, The University of Texas at Austin president Bill Powers is scheduled to testify in front of the Senate Finance Committee, using your tax-dollars to turn right around and beg the legislature not to take away any of your tax-dollars. Thanks to the email he sent out over the UT network, we know exactly how he wants to waste your money in the future.

First, he plans to ask the legislature to continue supporting the Texas Competitive Knowledge Fund. The Fund provides $1 million to the university for every $10 million it uses on “research expenditures”. Ironically, it was originally created by Republicans as a deal with universities (specifically, UT, A&M, Tech and U. of Houston) to limit tuition increases.

It sure doesn’t seem like it helped. Average tuition at UT rose from about $2,600 on average per semester in 2003 to over $4,000 by 2008. Today’s average semester at UT is now $4,780!

To make matters worse, we’re incentivizing Higher Ed to spend even more of our money at the federal level too. Most of the research these universities conduct is through federal grants. We’re even subsidizing their research through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (a.k.a. “stimulus money”). UT alone received $117 million from it!

In other words, universities like UT take your federal tax-dollars to do research that could have gone to private sector research, and spend as much of it as possible to earn more of your state tax dollars.

And you wonder why so much of it is wasted.

But that’s not all. President Powers is also going to ask your legislators for a Tuition Revenue Bond to use towards new engineering buildings on campus. He describes the current buildings in his email as “obsolete”.

Obsolete? That’s funny. I may have most of my classes in the Business School, but I don’t hear from any of my engineering friends that their buildings are in such bad shape that they can’t hold classes in them anymore.

Take their view of spending and apply it to the real world today. How many people are taking out new loans to buy a house because their current one needs a new coat of paint and some floorboards replaced? Know of anyone planning to buy a new car because their current one needs a tune-up?

Unlike public universities, the average Texan does not have a credit card without a spending limit to keep charging the state for their reckless spending. We need to hold President Powers and all other Higher Ed administrators accountable to keep them from taking this attitude with your money. Just like everyone else in the real world, they should learn to live with less until improved economic conditions allow them to do otherwise.


Dustin Matocha is the Social Media Coordinator for Empower Texans / Texans for Fiscal Responsibility.

Connect with Dustin on Twitter.

Dustin Matocha

Dustin Matocha is the CFO and COO of Texas Scorecard. Dustin graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a BBA in Management, a BA in Government, and a minor in Marketing. He’s a self-described Corvette enthusiast, baseball purist, tech geek and growing connoisseur of local craft beer.

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