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Friday, September 29, 2023

Staff Editorial

Invest in the future, don’t cut funding to higher ed

The immediate future of UH is being fought for today in Austin.

University President Renu Khator is addressing the Senate Finance Committee to ask for at least a reduction of the threatened budget cuts.

The biggest problem lies with a state legislature that does not know what the plan is. Gov. Rick Perry said on Tuesday that higher education in Texas is too expensive and froze tuition increases — while the legislature proposes cuts from $80 million to $100 million from the UH system alone.

For public universities, state funding is vital. Public institutions rely on state funding to operate at a low cost to students. Now Perry wants universities to do more for the students — and at a cheaper cost.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to provide a Tier One experience on a shoestring budget. Tier One means being the best — having the greatest faculty, facilities and staff possible. It means providing the best education possible, not the cheapest. For Perry to think that UH (or any public university in Texas) can provide a quality experience with a severely shortened budget is simply wrong.

You don’t get a quality education when you have to fire professors and staff members because there simply isn’t any money left; quality comes from vibrant research programs and an involved student community.

But what’s worse is Perry’s inaction. Instead of focusing on the looming budget crisis, he’s fast-tracked abortion legislation. Every time Perry is asked about the budget, he shrugs the question off and says it’s not as bad as the press insists it is.

Look at what UH has done in today’s economic climate. In the midst of a recession, this University earned the Carnegie Tier One research designation — five years earlier than even Khator thought possible.

We are trying great things in a tough time, and we’re succeeding. Instead of cutting funding, why not dip into the Rainy Day fund (worth an estimated $9 billion) and provide the fuel that the universities in Texas so desperately need? Consider it an investment on the future of Texas.

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