FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 10, 2008
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AUSTIN -- On the first day of pre-filing for the 81st Legislative Session, Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa filed S.B. 105, a tuition moratorium bill. Hinojosa's proposal would establish a two-year moratorium on tuition rate hikes and limit future increases to key economic indices.
Tuition rates are currently set by the regents of the state's public university systems, authority granted to them by H.B. 3015 in the 78th Regular Session in 2003. Since then, combined tuition and fees at public, four-year universities have increased 53%, according to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
Senator Hinojosa believes the current tuition rate-setting scheme fails Texas' college hopefuls. "There is something fundamentally wrong with the current system. We tell high school students that hard work earns them passage to a public university in Texas. Once these graduates meet that standard, they are priced out of the very opportunity that motivated them in the first place. The 'work hard and get ahead' story has become a false promise for Texas high school seniors."
The bill would impose a two-year moratorium on tuition increases at Texas' public universities. Following the two-year freeze, university regents could increase tuition rates only once a year, and increases would be capped by the yearly increase in the Consumer Price Index, an inflation tracker. As for fees, the bill would allow only for fees approved by the majority of student voters unless the fees are required or allowed by statute.
Senator Hinojosa is joined by a coalition of bipartisan support, including Senators Tommy Williams (R-Woodlands), Jane Nelson (R-Lewisville), Dan Patrick (R-Houston), Mario Gallegos (D-Houston), Chris Harris (R-Arlington), Carlos Uresti (D-San Antonio), Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay), and Dr. Robert Deuell (R-Greenville).
Hinojosa believes that his motivations for filing this bill are on solid policy footing given the bipartisan backing he has received.
"This is not a political issue. It is simply an issue of accessibility. State universities supported by the Texas taxpayer should be affordable for the children of working-class families. An investment in their education is an investment in Texas' future. The tuition deregulation policy is making the dream of a college education only that - a dream," Hinojosa said.