May 27, 2008
From the "Dance with them what brung you" files

It's a good thing I'm tanned and rested from my weekend vacation, or else this Clay Robison column might have caused me to faint.

How much college tuition would $1.4 million cover?

The simple answer, of course, is not nearly as much as it would have before Gov. Rick Perry signed the tuition deregulation law five years ago, and not even as much as last year, as tuition continues to rise at most state-supported universities.

Why $1.4 million?

That's the amount of political contributions Perry has collected during his administration from the university regents who accepted his invitation to attend a higher education summit with the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation in Austin last week.

The Perry-friendly, business-oriented audience (tort reformer and mega-donor Richard Weekley also was there) kicked around some ideas -- some controversial, some perhaps worthy -- about improving higher education in Texas.

But legislators, the people who can make or break the governor's agenda, weren't invited.

"Dog bites man." "Sun rises in East." "Rick Perry puts his financial supporters above everyone else." You get the picture.

Some Democratic House members plan to respond to the governor's summit within the next few days by unveiling higher education proposals of their own, including a freeze on tuition and repeal of the deregulation law.

These are among the real "bread and butter issues" for Texas families, said Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston.

And on Wednesday, a Senate higher education subcommittee chaired by Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, has scheduled a meeting on student financial aid and the "effects (that) continued tuition deregulation will have on college enrollment and accessibility."

Perhaps without the Governor and his sycophants in attendance, we can get some real work done to try and solve this problem.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 27, 2008 to Budget ballyhoo