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Legislative Agenda

2017

UH System Legislative Agenda

University of Houston System Priorities

  • Restoration of 4% cut to base budget
    Explanation: All state agencies were required to re-evaluate and cut 4% from their proposed budgets for the FY18/FY19 biennium. The significant budget reduction will amount to more than $2.5 million in cuts to the UH System, further restricting the ability of our universities to provide the highest quality and affordable education for our students.
  • Increase base formula funding to 2011 base formula levels ($55.39/sch to $62.19/sch)
    Explanation: Budget deficits during the 2013 session forced the Legislature to make severe cuts to the funding formula it uses to support Texas universities. This base formula funding helps keep the cost of attending college in Texas affordable by reducing the amount that institutions charge its students. While the Legislature provided a small increase in the rate per semester credit hour funding during the last session, the UH System requests that the Legislature continue to invest in state universities by increasing its funding to the 2011 base formula level of $62.19 per semester credit hour.
  • More investment in financial aid, specifically TEXAS Grants
    Explanation: The TEXAS Grants program provides higher education access to students who are of limited means, from underserved areas, and/or are the first in their family to attend college. Greater investment in state supported financial aid will allow these students to enroll and graduate, further strengthening the workforce and economic stability of our state.
  • Appropriation of funds to cover university costs for Hazlewood benefits provided to students (FY2016 estimated cost of $13 million to the UH System)
    Explanation: The Hazlewood Program provides veterans, their spouses, and/or their children access to free tuition and fees at state universities. The state, however, provides limited financial support to cover the costs of the program. Students who do not qualify for the Hazlewood benefit are forced to supplement these costs in the form of higher tuition and fees. The UH System requests that the state cover the full costs of this program, so it can remain sustainable.
  • Equalize funding for Pharmacy and Nursing programs with those that are located at health-related institutions
    Explanation: Pharmacy, Nursing and other academic programs funded through the formula for General Academic Institutions (GAI) receive approximately one half of the funding on a per-student basis than programs funded through the formula for Health Related Institutions (HRI). This funding disparity has created an inequitable system within our state’s universities, specifically for those programs not housed within a health science center. The UH System requests that the funding for these programs be equalized for all health related programs, including Pharmacy and Nursing.
  • State funding for Tier One universities (TRIP, NRUF, GURI, CRSF)
    Explanation: Together, the National Research University Fund (NRUF), the Texas Research Incentive Program (TRIP), the Governor’s University Research Initiative (GURI) and Core Research Support Fund (CRSF) constitute an innovative and powerful tool to develop and grow more nationally competitive Tier One research universities. Further, they serve as the primary resources through which the University of Houston and other universities not supported by the Permanent University Fund (PUF) pursue national competitiveness. The UH System recommends increased appropriations to these funds in order to continue to pursue academic excellence.
  • Funding for Texas Small Business Development Centers
    Explanation: The UH and the UHV Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) provide free business consulting and affordable training to small- and medium-sized business owners and managers. These centers are part of a network of centers located throughout the state. The UH SBDC serves as the regional hub of a 32-county area at 14 local consulting and training centers. The UHV SBDC is a local training center serving 11 counties, and is connected with the University of Texas-San Antonio Regional hub. These consulting centers are vital to the continued economic health of Texas through the creation of new businesses and expansion of existing small businesses. Any further investment in them will result in the return on the investment in them.

Exceptional Item Requests

UH System

  • $3,600,000 for Houston Guided Pathways to Success (H-GPS)
    Explanation: Houston Guided Pathways to Success, or Houston GPS, is a collaborative partnership between UH, UH-Downtown, UH-Clear Lake and community college partners, including Lone Star College, Houston Community College, Wharton Community College and others. The aim of this program is to create a seamless transition for transferring students from two-year colleges to four-year universities. Houston GPS will increase postsecondary attainment and build a culture of timely graduation to save students time and money. The funds provided will be appropriated for a tracking system that can be utilized for all partners involved in the collaboration, ensuring success of the program and greater success in graduating community college transfers in the Houston region.
  • $605,216 for the NASA Texas Aerospace Scholars & Technology Outreach Program
    Explanation: The Texas Aerospace Scholar & Technology Outreach Program is a summer internship program for students who have completed the NASA High School Aerospace Scholars Program or the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars program. Additional funds would be utilized for eight additional summer internships, the development and implementation of a new module for the TAS curriculum dedicated to commercial crew and the Texas Spaceport, including allowing the community college scholars the opportunity to work on a project dedicated to the Commercial Crew program and Texas Spaceport.

University of Houston

  • $2,011,143 for Texas Center for Excellence in Geodetic Imaging & Mapping
    Explanation: This center of excellence for research and education utilizes state-of-the-art remote sensing/geosensing technologies to produce high-resolution, four-dimensional images and digital elevation models. This technology can be applied to address many challenges confronting Texas, including planning for and responding to population growth, documenting and responding to natural and man-made disasters, and maintaining transportation networks. The funds will be utilized to provide more opportunities for state and local governments, school districts, and private sector companies to draw on the expertise of this center of excellence.
  • $980,000 for the UH Small Business Development Center to develop High Growth Stage 2 Business Team
    Explanation: The UH SBDC proposes to maximize job creation through the establishment of a High Growth Stage 2 Business Team, a specialty team focused on small businesses employing 10 to 99 employees with revenues of $500K to $50 million. Currently, the UH SBDC does not have consultants who can provide the expertise needed for these types of businesses who are poised for further growth and whose expertise is quite different than the consulting services provided to Stage 1 businesses.
  • $2,565,750 for UH Partnership for Multicultural Success
    Explanation: As the second most diverse research university in the country and a student population that has no ethnic group constituting a majority of the student body, UH is home to several programs including Mexican-American, Asian-American, and African-American Studies that focus on the vibrant cultures of our city. This program will offer activities that improve academic outcomes for ethnic minority students, improve community engagement, expand scholarly research and professional development.

UH-Clear Lake

  • $200,000 for Center for Autism & Developmental Disabilities to allow for expansion into new UHCL Pearland Campus building
    Explanation: The UHCL CADD supports research on autism and developmental disabilities, trains current and future professionals to serve as leaders in psychology and education, and provides services to children and their families through partnerships with area school districts and community organizations. During the previous Legislative Session, state funds were provided in order to expand services provided at the center located at UHCL. This request will allow a new center to be established and operated at the new UHCL Pearland Campus, increasing the number of children and families that can be served in the region.
  • $200,000 for Houston Partnership for Environmental Studies to allow center to apply and compete for more state and federal grants
    Explanation: The mission of the EIH is to advance understanding of the environment through interdisciplinary research, education and outreach. EIH conducts research on environmental issues with an emphasis on developing and implementing real-world solutions that incorporate community resiliency, waste minimization, energy conservation, and reduces the loss of natural resource services. Strong partnerships with three universities, 13 federal, state and local agencies, private companies, non-profits, and school districts have leveraged small seed grants into over $11 million in grant and contract funding over the last 10 years. Investment in additional staff will allow EIH to hire two additional staff members that will result in at least a five-fold increase in external grants and contracts to EIH and allow for it to compete for much larger regional and national grants.
  • $200,000 for UHCL Cyber Security Institute (CSI) High Technologies Laboratory to develop and expand cyber security programs for students and the community
    Explanation: The UHCL CSI was established in 2013 at the urging of NASA Johnson Space Center to promote research, education, and collaboration on cybersecurity issues among academic, governmental and industrial sectors. Since its establishment, the CSI has helped raise public awareness of cybersecurity issues, has succeeded in securing a workforce development grant and has now developed a certificate program in Network Management and Security. These funds would be used to expand programs and services offered through the UHCL CSI to individuals and organizations in the greater Houston region, including cybersecurity professional training, public seminars and workshops to further raise awareness of cybersecurity issues among small businesses, small business mentorship programs through partnerships with area chambers of commerce, development of degree programs in cybersecurity, and creation of cybersecurity summer camps for students in local school districts.

UH-Downtown

  • $600,000 for the UHD Center for Urban Agriculture & Sustainability for construction of a greenhouse and outside agricultural laboratory, hiring of staff position to expand current initiatives
    Explanation: The UHD CUAS is currently involved in multiple initiatives in collaboration with community partners such as Houston Tomorrow, Target Hunger’s Kashmere Gardens and Seeds of the Soil Garden in Houston’s Fifth Ward neighborhood. Each organization focuses on creating a healthy, sustainable food system through urban farms, community gardens, and backyard growing. State funding will allow CUAS to expand its programs, including the construction and management of greenhouse and outside agricultural laboratory located on the UHD campus allowing for applied research and connection between this research and interested community groups.
  • $700,000 for “A Pathway to Career Success” Internships, provides stipends for students to participate in internships
    Explanation: A Pathway to Career Success will provide stipends to junior- and senior-year students at UHD who wish to pursue summer internships at non-profit organizations. Internships are among the most impactful in creating a successful transition from classroom to career, yet students at UHD have struggled to participate in unpaid internships due to the financial obligations of typical UHD students, most of whom are employed either full- or part-time and many being the first in their families to attend college.

UH-Victoria

  • $1,800,000 for downward expansion costs
    Explanation: In the fall of 2010, UHV expanded from a two- to a four-year institution, allowing freshman and sophomore students to take classes at the university for the first time and significantly expanding access to higher education in the Victoria area. Traditionally, institutions that undergo downward expansion receive additional funds over and above the base formula rate until they are able to have enough students to be self-sustaining. While some funds have been appropriated, they have not been equal to that of other similarly sized institutions that have recently undergone downward expansion. These funds will make up that difference and allow UHV to achieve its mission of providing a four-year institution of higher education for its region.
  • $600,000 for the development of a Regional Center for Economic Development (RCED)
    Explanation: The RCED will serve 11 counties in the region, promoting economic growth, expansion, innovation and leadership development in many underserved rural communities. The UHV Small Business Development Center will have the primary management and oversight responsibility of the center and will therefore be the primary supplier of support services available there, including a business resource center, UHV’s Department of Career Services, and other programs focused on job creation and retention for the region.