His disaster of a presidential campaign notwithstanding, Gov. Rick Perry apparently believes he can still fool most Texans all the time. Consider a dance he had with reporters in San Antonio yesterday when asked about the future job security of University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers.
The governor denied a report he had tried to have Powers fired because Powers tried to win, over Perry’s opposition, another tuition increase at UT’s flagship. Then he added, “I don’t think it’s any big secret that I’m for keeping the cost of education down, so my suspicion is that no one in Texas thinks that I’m for tuition growth.”
The cost of higher education for Texas students and their families has soared since Perry signed the law deregulating university tuition in 2003. That law was a key part of a deliberate, calculated policy to reduce appropriations for universities and replace it with higher student costs in the form of everescalating tuition.
Tuition at UTAustin has increased by more than 200 percent since the fall of 2003, and regents (Perry appointees who don’t have to answer to the voters) have imposed huge increases at other university campuses as well. And although UT regents agreed to freeze tuition at UTAustin for the next two years, as requested by the governor, tuition will continue to rise at other universities.
Meanwhile, also thanks to Perry’s budgetslashing policy, the amount of financial aid to deserving students continues to fall. Millions of dollars were cut last year from TEXAS grants, the state’s basic financial aid program. That means thousands of students and their families are digging deeper into their own pockets, or going deeper in debt. Still others are being forced to give up on their dreams of a college education.
The minor reprieve at UTAustin to the contrary, Perry is a major reason that many Texas young people are struggling to stay in school – or being priced out before they can get in.
Someone’s pants are on fire.