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Opposition to Prop 4

Prop 4, the Tier 1 Universities constitutional amendment, has gotten a lot of support across the spectrum. Any high-profile amendment will always have some opposition, however, and Prop 4 no exception.

A proposed constitutional amendment to help the University of Houston and six other Texas schools raise their national standing has drawn its first announced opposition: college students.

“The base of our argument is, research is not the great deal that university administrators and some state policy makers would make it out to be,” said Tony McDonald, vice chairman of legislative affairs for Young Conservatives of Texas and a law student at the University of Texas at Austin. “It’s really not a very good economic bargain for the state.”

[…]

Supporters say more university research projects will be good for the state’s economy. Economist Ray Perryman is set to release his study on the potential economic impact of Proposition 4 today. Margaret Justus, a spokeswoman for Texans for Tier One, said Perryman’s report will dispute the Young Conservatives argument that research spending doesn’t really help the economy.

“We’ve got (support from) people who call themselves strong conservatives because they know strong research creates … great, high-paying jobs,” she said.

But McDonald said he doubts the projected benefits are real, and that much research now done by university faculty isn’t worthy of public support. Instead, he said, universities should focus on teaching.

“I feel that may hurt students at those universities,” he said. “It’s going to be drawing their professors out of the classroom.”
Young Conservatives of Texas has chapters at several schools that could benefit from Proposition 4, including UH, Texas Tech, UT-Dallas and UT-San Antonio. Chapter leaders at those schools didn’t respond to requests for comment Tuesday.

McDonald acknowledged that not everyone in the group wanted to oppose Proposition 4 but defended it as a group consensus.

When I think of the YCT, I think of affirmative action bake sales and not serious public policy analysis, so I can’t say I find their opposition to be a matter of concern. Be that as it may, here’s an accompanying article with the case for Prop 4.

A proposed constitutional amendment to boost research at the University of Houston and other Texas schools could create a million or more jobs and add billions of dollars in tax revenues, according to a study released Wednesday by economist Ray Perryman.

“And these are not just 1.2 million regular old, garden-variety jobs,” Perryman said. “Many of these jobs are the finest scientists, engineers doing the most exciting things that you can imagine.”

Perryman was in Austin to promote Proposition 4, which will be decided by voters in November. He was joined by former Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby and James Huffines, chairman of the University of Texas board of regents, who are co-chairs of the advocacy group, Texans for Tier One.

Their central argument is that building up a handful of universities would pay off in new jobs, innovative research and expanded business opportunities.

“Unquestionably, the jobs of the future are going to follow the brainpower,” Huffines said.

He and Hobby stressed that the proposal will not require new taxes, although Perryman’s report notes that additional state funding likely would be needed to sustain any gains.

You can read Perryman’s report here. I’m sold on Prop 4 – it’s the easiest vote on the ballot, if you ask me – but take a look at that report and see what you think. And you can add the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to the list of Prop 4 endorsers. A statement from them about Prop 4 is beneath the fold.

The Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors have voted to endorse the Proposition No. 4 State Constitutional Amendment set to be on the November 3rd statewide election ballot.

Proposition Four makes existing funds available as a pathway for seven state schools, including the University of Houston, to become Tier-One research universities. The ballot language calls for establishing, “the national research university fund to enable emerging research universities in this state to achieve national prominence as major research universities and transferring the balance of the higher education fund to the national research university fund.”

The HHCC Board of Directors believes that the economic impact Proposition No. 4 would have on Houston would be substantial as Tier-One institutions typically result in a 200 percent return on investment.

“Passage of Proposition 4 will lead to millions of dollars of research grants awarded to the University of Houston, and this will have a direct impact on Houston’s economy and our members,” said Dr. Laura G. Murillo, HHCC President & CEO.

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One Comment

  1. lharris says:

    But McDonald said he doubts the projected benefits are real, and that much research now done by university faculty isn’t worthy of public support.

    I’d like to see him explain this one.