Regular Session Evaluated

In retrospect, the recently concluded Regular Session of the Texas Legislature turned out fairly well for community and technical colleges. At least that’s the assessment of leaders at the Texas Association of Community Colleges and the Commissioner of Higher Education, as reported in SPI Insights by Kristin Gordon.

Some of the article deals with universities, many of which had a rough Session in some ways. The commissioner pointed out that, in the interim, funding formulas will undergo a new evaluation.

As for two-year schools, you can get details from the piece about some noteworthy bills that passed and have been signed into law. It’s safe to say that opening the door to more bachelor’s degrees at community colleges is a significant development.

The Session was pretty quiet when it came to health and retirement benefits. You may recall during past Sessions, major consternation over “proportionality” in funding benefits, but the 50/50 compromise worked out in 2j015 seems to be holding. TRS members should always be on the alert for proposals to transform TRS to a “defined contribution” plan, at least for new hires. This idea went nowhere in 2017, but there are influential market-oriented groups wanting to put an end to traditional pension plans at all levels.

A Special Session looms ahead, with property taxes on the proposed agenda. Conceivably this could affect community colleges. Then there is the “bathroom bill,” which also could apply to our schools.

Happy Independence Day!