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The Brief: Texas colleges face a perfect storm of budget cuts

State budget cuts to higher education aren't the only problem worrying universities. Schools are also staring down efforts to freeze tuition and slash federal funding for higher education.

Tuition costs are rising in Texas as per-student state funding for higher education shrinks.

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Will Texas universities face perfect storm of cuts?
The top three sources of revenue for Texas public universities are all being targeted for reductions or freezes by federal or state government leaders.

Texas death penalty juror hopes to change law as execution looms
As Paul Storey's execution looms, one juror is asking the Texas Legislature to clarify the jury instructions in death penalty cases, claiming he didn't know he alone could have stopped the sentence. 

Senate committee considers adoption legislation
The Senate State Affairs Committee on Monday considered a pair of bills that would allow adult adoptees in the state to more easily access their birth certificates and medical history.

Texas Senate tentatively approves voter ID fix
The Texas Senate tentatively approved legislation that would revamp the state’s voter identification rules, a response to court rulings that the current law discriminates against minority voters.

Railroad Commission bill could revive debate on bathrooms, immigration
House Republicans will look to force a vote on the regulations in the Senate’s “bathroom bill.” And a Democratic lawmaker has an amendment aimed at forcing the business community to take sides in the sanctuary cities debate. 

Businesses divided in support of high-priority insurance bill
Last month, major business interests told Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick that his high-priority hailstorm insurance bill was a no-go. Now, support from other business leaders is pouring in.

Texas Senate approves bill that would reduce handgun license fee
On Monday, the upper chamber gave final passage to Senate Bill 16, which would reduce the first-time fee for a license to carry from $140 to $40 and the annual renewal fee from $70 to $40.

Gov. Abbott: This country isn't the "United States of Municipalities"
Gov. Greg Abbott raised eyebrows last week when he threw his support behind a "broad-based law" that pre-empts local regulations. On Monday, Abbott did not back away from the idea — but offered more detail about what he meant. 

Why does the Texas criminal code still ban "homosexual conduct"?
The United States Supreme Court ruled in 2003 that a ban on "homosexual conduct" — the act of sex between members of the same sex — was unconstitutional. So why is it still on the books? 

What you need to know

State budget cuts to higher education aren't the only problem worrying universities. Schools are also staring down efforts to freeze tuition and slash federal funding for higher education. 

  • Tuition, state funding and federal cash make up a combined 75 percent of Texas public university revenue. "All alumni and business leaders in our state should be up in arms and outraged about these proposals being considered," said Will O'Hara, co-interim director of the Texas Exes alumni group at UT-Austin. 
  • Average tuition has climbed 147 percent in Texas over the past 15 yearsAt a hearing on tuition freezes last week, university leaders repeatedly asked for flexibility in setting prices.
  • Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has said halting tuition growth is one of his top 20 priorities for 2017. Patrick has expressed support for Senate Bill 19, which would impose a four-year freeze on tuition increases.

What we're reading

(Links below lead to outside websites; paywall content noted with $) 

AP Exclusive: Price tag of North Carolina's LGBT law: $3.76BThe Associated Press

Gonzalez asks Trump to expedite repatriation of deported veterans, The Monitor

Local Meals on Wheels volunteers worried about proposed cuts, Denton Record-Chronicle

ICE detains 26 offenders reporting for community service in Fort Worth, Fort Worth Star-Telegram ($)

Federal threat to pull funds will have little, if any, effect on Travis County, local officials say, Austin American-Statesman ($)

Attorney General Jeff Sessions repeats Trump threat that "sanctuary cities" could lose Justice Department grantsThe Washington Post ($)

Eminent domain for Trump's border wall is fine, says Texas attorney general Ken PaxtonThe Dallas Morning News ($)

For your calendar

Join us today at KLRU's Studio 6A for a special screening of Beyond the Wall, The Texas Tribune's short documentary that explores the state's immigration issues through the eyes of undocumented immigrants, border patrol agents and a borderland rancher.

Next Tuesday, April 4, The Texas Tribune will talk about legislative issues with experienced community organizers at the W Austin Records Room. The event is part of the Tribune's On the Record series, geared towards helping Texans be better, smarter citizens. 

Photo of the day

Claudia Macias, whose mother is an immigrant, challenges U.S. Rep. John Culberson, R-Houston, about President Trump’s immigration ban during a town hall Culberson held in Houston on Saturday. Photo by Michael Stravato. See more photos on our Instagram account

Quote to note

"Too often, Texans are subjected to “deny, delay and underpay” tactics as insurers test and break the will of property owners. Only strong laws pry policy benefits back from the insurance industry, serving as the last line of defense for Texas property owners."

— Ware Wendell, executive director of Texas Watch, about the the insurance industry's "blue tarp bills" via TribTalk

The Brief is written and compiled by your morning news baristas, Bobby Blanchard and Sanya Mansoor. If you have feedback or questions, please email thebrief@texastribune.org. We're a nonprofit newsroom, and count on readers like you to help power newsletters like this. Did you like what you read today? Show your appreciation by becoming a member or making a donation today.

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