From President Denise Trauth to Students, Faculty, and Staff in TXST Connections
Friday June 7, 2019
I am pleased to report that Texas State University fared well this legislative session. In the final approved state budget, Texas State’s formula funding for the next two years (biennium) will increase by 5.4 percent or $8.76 million. However, with this increase in formula funding came new costs to fund an increase in the employer share of the Teacher Retirement System contribution, and decreases in other types of state funding to cover things like employee and retiree healthcare. When all that is taken into account, the net increase to our general revenue budget becomes 1.1 percent, or approximately $2.4 million. We are grateful for the increase over current levels.
Critical to our students and to enrollment, the Legislature expanded the Toward Excellence, Access and Success (TEXAS) Grant Program which provides financial aid for low- and middle-income students at universities throughout the state. In fiscal year 2019, more than $25 million was awarded in TEXAS Grant funds to Texas State students.
Public Safety Initiatives
We received some exceptionally good news this legislative session regarding two research and training centers central to our mission and critical to keeping our fellow Texans safe. The Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) Center received a new $4 million appropriation across the biennium, and the Texas School Safety Center (TxSSC) received an additional $9.1 million. As the national standard for active shooter response training, ALERRT has trained more than 140,000 first responders and 200,000 civilians since it opened in 2002. This funding will enable ALERRT to hold an additional 800 classes to ensure officers across Texas are better prepared to deal with active attacks and save lives. Also essential to public safety, the TxSSC is legislatively mandated to serve as a central clearinghouse to help K-12 schools and community colleges in the state create secure and healthy learning environments. This funding restores cuts that the TxSSC received in 2017 session and increases the center’s capacity to deliver training, conduct research, and provide technical assistance to classrooms across Texas. I am proud of the work of both of these programs and pleased to see the statewide impact of this increased funding.
Research and Academic Enterprises
As one of the state’s eight emerging research universities, Texas State benefits from the Core Research Support Fund (Core Research), and the Texas Research Incentive Program (TRIP), which were both funded for the biennium. Texas State accesses money from the Core Research to support faculty engaged in research, purchase equipment, outfit labs, and hire research coordinators. Research coordinators are professional staff who work with faculty to identify funding opportunities, initiate and submit proposals for external research funding, and assist in administering awarded grants and contracts. Across the 2018-2019 biennium, the Core Research appropriation for Texas State was $8.2 million. The 2020-2021 biennium budget calls for an increase of $1.8 million in Core Research funding for Texas State. TRIP provides matching funds for philanthropic gifts to the university that support undergraduate research scholarships, and graduate research programs and fellowships. Texas State has submitted more than $33.5 million in gift funds eligible for the state match and has received more than $14.45 million in matching TRIP funds since the program’s inception.
This investment in research by the Texas Legislature over the next biennium positions Texas State to be on the forefront in finding solutions to some of the most pressing societal issues related to health, public safety, and infrastructure needs.
We are also reviewing other bills passed by the Legislature that address areas impacting higher education, such as free speech, transfer course credits between community colleges and universities, hazing, and sexual assault. As we learn more about these bills, I will update you regarding the impact to our university.
Please keep in mind that Governor Gregg Abbott has until June 16 to sign, veto, or let stand any bills passed by the legislature, and the information I am sharing is not finalized until it is acted on by the governor.
I greatly appreciate the Texas Legislature’s commitment to higher education and Texas State University. Ultimately, the funding we receive at Texas State translates into the excellent education we provide our students to graduate and successfully compete in the evolving global workforce.
I look forward to working with all of you in the Bobcat community to build on this momentum as we propel Texas State forward.