Budget writers throw support to community colleges

The introduced versions of House Bill 1 and Senate Bill 1 (88-R), each chamber’s respective proposal for the state’s biennial budget for 2024-2025, have been filed, and they both include an estimated $650 million to fully implement the legislation that would enact community college finance reforms.

Over the past two years, Texas 2036 has worked to inform the Texas Legislature along with business and education organizations about workforce-aligned reforms in the Texas community college finance system. This work culminated last year in a report from the Texas Commission on Community College Finance proposing transformational changes focused on delivering value to students by improving their ability to complete a credential of value. Texas 2036 offered strong support of the Commission’s recommendations as they were finalized.

Now, the 88th Texas Legislature has received the commission’s recommendations, which must pass through the legislative process to be implemented. While we wait for the corresponding legislation to be filed, we already have one cause for celebration — Texas legislative leaders’ support of investments into community colleges.

Specifically, the funding includes:
  • $428 million in additional funding for community college formula funding;
  • $33 million for improvements to community college innovations and collaborations, including grants to add capacity necessary to meet regional workforce needs;
  • $139 million in additional funding for the state’s financial aid programs for two-year higher education institutions to serve more eligible Texas students, and;
  • $50 million in estimated funding to provide tuition and fee assistance for economically disadvantaged students participating in dual credit courses.

This is only one of many steps ahead of community college finance reform before it can reach the Governor’s desk for his signature. However, this is a significant first step, showing legislative support to invest part of the state’s historic budget surplus in improving the state’s workforce through higher education and workforce training.

Texas 2036 will continue to support the Texas Legislature as they create, debate and finalize changes to the state’s community college finance system. You can follow along at our Twitter or Facebook feeds or through updates provided by our joint coalition with business, education and civic organizations, the Aim Hire Texas Policy Coalition.