Republicans should beware of the backlash cuts to higher education could bring, members of the Texas College Democrats said at a press conference today.
“Texas Republicans in the state House do not care about college students,” said David de la Fuente, a Southern Methodist University student and president of the Texas College Democrats, as he read from a petition collected by his organization and signed by more than 1,500 college students from across the state.
De la Fuente said no Democrats voted for the budget that cuts funding to higher education and to financial aid programs like TEXAS Grants and work study programs.
Among other things, the budget could drastically reduce the funding for TEXAS Grants, the state's primary need-based financial aid program, to the point where no new students would be able to sign up, de la Fuente said. The cuts come as enrollment is increasing at colleges and universities across Texas.
Colleges and universities have already had to deal with cuts — and the proposed state budget would ask those institutions to cut more without funding record enrollment growth, said Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, who attended the press conference.
“We are demanding more while providing less dollars,” Howard said. Less state assistance will mean colleges and universities have to squeeze more money out of other sources of funding like student tuition, she said, hurting college students and ultimately the state if fewer Texans are able to get college degrees.
“No matter how low overall taxes are, no matter how few our regulations, no matter how much tort reform we pass, businesses will not come to Texas if we do not have an educated work force,” Howard said.
Howard said Democrats would continue to look for ways to improve the funding situation for higher education in the final weeks of the legislative session.