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State Budget Bill Averts Draconian Cuts to Texas A&M System Universities Posted: 6/02/17

State Budget Bill Averts Draconian Cuts to Texas A&M System Universities

 

Chancellor John Sharp
Chancellor John Sharp of The Texas A&M University System  

COLLEGE STATION — The Texas Legislature has sent an appropriations bill to Gov. Greg Abbott that averted the most damaging aspects of earlier legislative proposals affecting The Texas A&M University System’s 11 universities and seven state agencies.

The Legislature faced a fiscal challenge of $3 billion in reduced General Revenue available to write a state budget to meet the State’s needs.  Initially, Senate Bill 1 called for operating fund reductions of more than 50 percent for some A&M System institutions. The final version limited the maximum reductions for the universities to 10 percent and provided some increases for the fastest-growing schools.

Texas A&M University was awarded the largest General Revenue increase among all public universities.

“I want to thank our friends in the Legislature, and our students, faculty and staff as well as the former students of our 11 universities who worked so hard on the A&M System’s behalf,” said Chancellor John Sharp.  "In particular we are grateful for the support of higher education demonstrated by Senator Jane Nelson, Representative John Zerwas, Senator Lois Kolkhorst, and Representative Trent Ashby."  Representative Zerwas and Senator Nelson chaired the Conference Committee, and Representative Ashby and Senator Kolkhorst led the Conference Committee discussion specific to higher education for their respective chambers.  "There is no question that the Conference Committee on SB1 was a game changer to the benefit of Higher Education."

A few of the highlights of Senate Bill 1:

  • The formula funding for higher education was maintained.   Formula funding allocates funding equitably among all institutions.  This was the A&M System’s Number 1 priority.
  • The Legislature reduced net operating General Revenue by slightly less than 1 percent ($10.3 million) for the Texas A&M System.  Student enrollment for the A&M System is up 10,410 since the last biennium.
  • The initial Senate version had contemplated cutting the A&M System’s total general revenue by $187.2 million.  Total general revenue is up $54.5 million because the Legislature fully funded debt service and the Higher Education Fund. 

General Revenue for A&M System universities varied, with faster-growing schools doing better.  Below is a table showing the Net General Revenue (GR) change for the A&M institutions.  Net GR excludes debt service appropriations to show the revenue available to provide services.

TAMIU president Dr. Pablo Arenaz said that while no reduction in funding is a happy occasion, the University is committed to cost-saving measures and has seen a healthy rebound in enrollment growth for this coming Fall.

“We met first thing Tuesday morning with key administrators to help identify cost-saving measures that we can implement. We may be lean, but we’re confident that we can weather this change. We are also encouraged by a healthy rebound in enrollment growth that we are anticipating this Fall.  In short, our mission continues and we look forward to its delivery daily,”  Dr. Arenaz said.

 

Conference NET GR
(excluding debt service) 
2016-17 to 2018-19

Enrollment
(Student Headcount)
Fall 14 to Fall 16

General Academics

Change

% Change

Change

% Change

Texas A&M

13,649,262

2.4%

3,928

7.0%

Texas A&M at Galveston

(1,961,214)

-6.8%

(127)

-5.5%

Prairie View A&M

1,331,108

1.6%

419

5.0%

Tarleton State

4,032,646

6.1%

1,371

11.7%

Texas A&M - Central Texas

(2,642,246)

-10.0%

303

13.1%

Texas A&M - Corpus Christi

(4,609,976)

-5.7%

968

8.6%

Texas A&M – Kingsville

(6,786,835)

-9.6%

550

6.3%

Texas A&M - San Antonio

(4,482,976)

-10.0%

953

21.1%

Texas A&M International

(4,068,478)

-8.2%

(164)

-2.2%

West Texas A&M

(1,872,896)

-3.4%

931

10.4%

Texas A&M – Commerce

287,950

0.4%

895

7.8%

Texas A&M – Texarkana

14,181

0.1%

181

10.0%

Subtotal, A&M System Academics

(7,109,474)

-0.6%

10,208

7.5%

 

 

 

Texas A&M Univ Health Science Center

2,123,347

0.9%

202

8.1%

 

 

 

TAMUS Service Agencies

 

 

Texas A&M AgriLife Research

(3,254,342)

-2.9%

 

 

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

(933,771)

-1.0%

 

 

Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station

45,628

0.1%

 

 

Texas A&M Transportation Institute

(3,591,880)

-19.2%

 

 

Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service

1,792,626

11.3%

 

 

Texas A&M Forest Service

1,175,693

1.8%

 

 

Texas A&M Vet. Med. Diagnostic Lab

(419,370)

-3.5%

 

 

Subtotal, TAMUS Service Agencies

(5,185,416)

-1.5%

 

 

 

 

 

A&M System

(171,120)

-10.0%

 

 

 

 

 

Grand Total, A&M System

(10,342,663)

-0.6%

          10,410

7.5%

 

Senate Bill 1 also requires an interim study of non-formula funding items to consider the realignment or possible elimination of appropriations made outside the formula.  For the upcoming biennium, the A&M System receives a total of $201 million in non-formula funding.

“We will work with the Legislature to create a reliable financing method so higher education can continue to meet its obligation to educate the next generation and to conduct world-class research that drives a state economy based on innovation,” said Chancellor Sharp.

Senate Bill 1 now goes to Governor Abbott for final consideration.

The Legislature also appropriated money for several A&M System efforts, including:

  • Texas A&M College of Medicine: Almost $5 million for 479 medical residents at Houston Methodist and Baylor University Medical Center-Dallas to help the state achieve the goal of keeping more Texas-trained doctors in the state
  • Texas A&M-Corpus Christi: $7 million for the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center
  • Tarleton State University:  $10 million to replace agricultural facilities destroyed by storms
  • Authorization to replace the Texas A&M Veterinarian Medical Diagnostic Laboratory in Amarillo by refinancing debt for the College Station lab
  •  Texas A&M AgriLife Extension:
    • Increase of $320,000 in the Leadership strategy programs for 4H
    • Increase of $900,000 for the Feral Hog Abatement program. This program was moved from Texas Department of Agriculture to the A&M Extension Service
    • Increase of $1.2 million for Surplus Agricultural Products grants (Brighter Bites)
    • Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES): An additional $1,888,744 for the Nuclear Power Institute
    • Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX): An additional $2 million for Texas Task Force 2

 

About The Texas A&M University System

The Texas A&M University System is one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation, with a budget of $4.2 billion. Through a statewide network of 11 universities and seven state agencies, the Texas A&M System educates more than 148,000 students and makes more than 22 million additional educational contacts through service and outreach programs each year. System-wide, research and development expenditures exceeded $972 million in FY 2016 and helped drive the state’s economy.