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Chancellor Hance Addresses Proposed Budget for the Next Biennium

February 3, 2011 

Texas Tech University System Chancellor Kent Hance issued the following statement today (Feb 3) with regard to the proposed budget for the 2012-2013 biennium outlined in House Bill 1 and Senate Bill 1 and its impact on the system and its three component institutions.

Statement from Chancellor Hance:

Due to the impact of the worldwide recession, the state of Texas is facing a significant budget revenue gap in the 2012-2013 biennium. A reduction in available revenue has lead to a budget deficit and projections have been made estimating a shortfall between $18 billion to $27 billion.

Recognizing the seriousness of the budgetary constraints, reductions must be made and spending needs to be limited. Over the last two years, the Texas Tech University System has identified ways to reduce costs and has worked to return nearly $37.5 million to the state.

We understand additional reductions will be necessary and will do our part to help address this deficit. However, the state’s economic challenges should be borne equally by all government entities, and not unduly, as it has previously fallen on higher education’s shoulders.

Early last year, state agencies were instructed to cut their current biennial spending by 5 percent, and higher education institutions honored this request by returning more than $518 million to the state. However, some state programs including welfare services and some sectors of prison funding were exempted from the budget cuts.

As a result, universities in Texas suffered a disproportionate share of these cuts. Higher education institutions, which represent only 12.5 percent of the current state budget, carried the heaviest burden when compared to all other state agencies, amounting to 41 percent of the required reductions returned. 

Despite these initial spending reductions, an additional 2.5 percent in cuts was recently requested. These cuts have made operating more and more difficult and further cuts are expected during a time when enrollment at Texas colleges and universities has reached record numbers. 

In fall 2010, the component institutions of the Texas Tech University System each celebrated enrollment records, totaling more than 42,000 students. Enrollment across the Texas Tech University System has increased by approximately 48 percent since fall 2000, and efforts are underway to reach 40,000 students at Texas Tech University, 5,000 students at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center and 10,000 students at Angelo State University by 2020.

With these substantial student increases and plans for future enrollment growth, we are committed to providing students with a high-quality education, advancing the state through innovative research and serving the citizens of Texas with exceptional health care. Though, doing so without adequate state funding will not be possible.

In 1990, approximately 56 percent of the Texas Tech University System’s funding was state appropriated. This percentage has steadily declined over the years with approximately 36 percent of our budget coming from the state in 2010. As each institution’s funding sources have shifted and been reduced by recently mandated cuts, efficiencies have been achieved to minimize the impact on students and patients.

While it is still early in this legislative session, Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 1 both propose severe cuts to higher education institutions for the next biennium.

We will be forced to reconsider the workforce and workload critical to our mission, which brings even greater concern to our organization and other university systems as it is our role to produce the working professionals who develop new knowledge and support economic prosperity and growth. 

Higher education in Texas needs to remain open, accessible and affordable, as we help the state prosper by producing graduates who pay taxes and create jobs.

Along with eliminating various services and academic programs, faculty and staff positions will be closely evaluated, and less state funding could result in limiting overall student enrollment. Class sizes will increase, and the proposed reductions in student financial aid are also unsettling.

As Texas faces trying economic conditions, bold steps must be taken to maintain the state’s economic well-being and ensure its continued success. We have made cuts and we will make more, but these reductions must be applied across the board to all state agencies. It is vital that everyone do their fair share to provide a solution for the greater good of the state and Texans.