House Appropriations Committee Considers Community College Budget, Hears Testimony from AFT

This past Thursday, the Article III subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, which is responsible for the education-related portions of the state budget, heard testimony related to budget appropriations for the state’s community colleges. 

Dr. David Albert, president of Austin Community College AFT, was among those who testified. In explaining to the  subcommittee the need for additional community college funding specifically directed to staff raises, Albert outlined his members’ struggles to make ends meet. Thanks to ACC AFT’s recent wage campaign victory, the minimum hourly wage for ACC employees is $20 per hour, but Albert explained to committee members that $20 per hour is not enough to get by in high cost-of-living areas like Austin.

Additionally, the appropriations subcommittee heard from a representative of the legislative budget board (LBB), who laid out the first draft of the community college budget. Included in this draft is funding earmarked for recommendations made by the Texas Commission on Community College Finance (CCCF). 

The CCCF recommendations, originally published last October, would allocate $650 million in additional funding to community colleges. Of that additional funding, $428 million would go directly to the state’s community colleges via formula funding, and the rest would go to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) to distribute to community colleges via competitive grants. This additional $650 million in community college funding is contingent upon the Legislature passing the CCCF’s recommended formula for allocating this money.

In the previous model, the majority of community college formula funding, roughly 83%, was allocated to colleges based on their number of contact hours; the rest, roughly 17%, was allocated based on success point measurements, which include the number of credentials awarded and number of students who transfer to four-year universities. Since the start of the pandemic, both success point measurements and contact hours have gone down. 

The CCCF’s recommended model for allocating the additional $428 million in formula funds puts a greater emphasis on success points, with 94% of the additional funds being tied to student outcomes (similar to success points). According to the recommendations, there would be special incentives for creating positive outcomes for economically disadvantaged and academically disadvantaged students.

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