Community Colleges to Regain Health Benefits Funding
Perry cuts deal to restore $154 million
Tuesday evening, the three state leaders announced that community colleges will get $99 million to pay the state's share of benefits for eligible employees and a one-time payment of $55 million to help them make the transition to "the agreed definition of proportionality for health insurance benefits." Other state appropriations affected by the transfer will be restored through a supplemental appropriation by the 2009 Legislature. The three also asked that the colleges rescind tuition, fee, or tax increases enacted for fiscal year '08 to offset the veto.
"We are pleased that the vetoed funds are being returned," said Dr. Reynaldo García, president of the Texas Association of Community Colleges, in a press release. "However, it is essential that the state recognize that the issue of proportionality is a symptom of the larger problem of state under-funding of community colleges. We look forward to working with the Legislature and the Governor on improving higher education affordability, access, and quality."
Austin Community College President and CEO Stephen Kinslow also weighed in. "I hope community colleges will be treated as equal partners in higher education," said Kinslow, "and that the governor's office will work directly with us to better align public policy with the mission we are all focused on – closing the education gap to ensure Texas has the skilled workforce necessary for a competitive economy."