Proposing a constitutional amendment relating to the Texas University Fund, which provides funding to certain institutions of higher education to achieve national prominence as major research universities and drive the state economy.
Overview It makes sense that a large prosperous state like Texas would do everything in its power to encourage the growth and success of research universities in Texas. These Texas universities:
provide our citizens to top-notch educations
attract the finest minds from across the country
draw innovative businesses that depend on this research - and the jobs they create
help build a strong local economy.
These research universities build robust, active communities – making Texas a better place to live. All of these outcomes are reasons to vote YES on this amendment!
What’s in the Amendment? This amendment endows a Texas University Fund by allocating the profits from the Economic Stabilization Fund (rainy day fund) from the preceding fiscal year. The total amount allocated in fiscal 2024 would be limited to $100 million, and the annual limit would be adjusted for inflation each year but would be limited to a 2% growth rate. (The University of Texas and Texas A&M systems would be excluded from receiving money from the fund, as they are funded separately.)
Why is this important? Currently, the Texas Constitution provides for the funding of the University of Texas and Texas A&M through the Permanent University Fund (PUF) with profits from oil and gas leases in West Texas. This is great, but as universities develop, we want to encourage many other top research universities to develop and grow in Texas, where we can enjoy all the positive business and educational benefits that they bring. Since PUF funding is already allocated, the idea is to endow a new Texas University Fund (TUF) that can be used to support other top research universities to develop research centers in Texas. When you look at communities that host research universities, you see they draw top talent to do that research. In addition, you see they draw businesses that want to use that research and leverage it in innovative ways. Most growing businesses need other businesses to build materials that are not part of their core business, and you see an ongoing network of business infrastructure that fuels economic development and prosperity in an area. According to Kelly Damphousse, president of Texas State University in San Marcos, which hopes to benefit from TUF, "There’s no reason a state as big and well resourced as Texas shouldn’t have more top research universities. We’re striving to be an R-1 institution; right now, we’re R-2 … but whereas before we were moving toward that goal incrementally, this new funding will allow us to move much faster." So, the implementation of this funding would help Texas universities become ‘world-class’. From the point of view of Harrison Keller, the Texas Commissioner of Higher Education, "The intent is to make these universities more competitive, strong and vital, especially in areas that will be important for regional and state economic development. ... This conversation about equity in funding and boosting emerging research universities has been going on for over a decade among policy makers. TUF is the most substantial investment in a lasting structure that other campuses can use to be more competitive." Summary This amendment is long-overdue funding for Texas research universities struggling to compete with those in other states. This is an excellent use of rainy-day state funds that will give a boost to our universities to become world-class and bring all the educational and business benefits that come with it. Vote YES - and make us Texas-proud!
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