With the support of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, the Texas Senate’s Higher Education Committee chairman has filed two legislative items that conservatives have been demanding for years: freezing tuition and repealing tuition “set asides.”
SBs 18 and 19, authored by State Sen. Kel Seliger (R–Amarillo), make good on efforts and commitments by Patrick to pass both reforms. Patrick even went as far as to name them two of this top priorities in November.
In essence, freezing tuition takes the decision of setting tuition and fee rates out of the hands of unelected regents and freezes it at current rates until 2022. Meanwhile, repealing set-asides would end a 20 percent tax on university students to fund a wealth redistribution scheme.
“The focus should be on how to make higher education more accessible and affordable, rather than how to get the state, and students, to pay more,” said Seliger.
When the legislation was filed, Patrick issued a statement praising Seliger and reaffirming his continued support for reforming Texas higher education policy.
“Senate Bills 18 and 19 are critical to ensure higher education tuition and fees do not continue to outpace what hardworking Texans earn. Making college more affordable for all Texans continues to be one of my top priorities this Legislative Session,” said Patrick. “I commend Sen. Seliger for filing these two bills that will help bring economic relief to students who pursue higher education.”
That both reforms have garnered the backing from Seliger is a pleasant surprise and an action that should be commended. As many observers of the Texas Legislature are aware, Seliger is one of the more moderate Republicans in the Texas Legislature, often siding with Democrats to oppose conservatives.
His newfound support for both issues is a major win for conservatives and another demonstration of the sizable clout of Patrick who has used the power of his office to cajole and coerce moderate members of the Texas Senate into supporting conservative reforms.
Of the issues, freezing tuition faces a substantially easier path toward passing due to its coalition of bipartisan support from movement conservatives and black Democrats. Repealing tuition set asides, however, is strongly opposed by Democrats and Republicans loyal to university administrators who use the money to socially engineer student bodies that support their political agendas.
While both efforts could pass the Texas Senate, they are likely to die in the Texas House due to a coalition government that has been beholden to bureaucrats in the University of Texas Politburo rather than the citizens who elected them.
Conservatives will have to apply substantial pressure to lawmakers and make their voice heard for either reform to become law.