Each biennium, a contingent of faithful University of Houston Cougars and leaders journey to Austin to make sure state policymakers are keeping the University of Houston top of mind during the legislative session. With the pandemic still raging and strict rules and capacity limitations in place inside the Capitol, UH is instead hosting a virtual UH Day at the Capitol 2021.
“The legislature is operating very differently this year. Despite the challenges, there is a short window of time to articulate the UH and UH System priorities,” said Jason Smith, UH vice president for governmental relations. “It is important that we share with elected officials the ways in which UH is moving Houston and the state forward. A significant part of the University’s funding for the next two years will be decided between now and May 31.
The 87th Texas Legislature gaveled in for its 2021 session on Jan. 12, and the regular session lasts 140 days. UH will host a virtual advocacy day, outlining UH’s strategic priorities that will help advance UH and the state of Texas. Virtual UH Day at the Capitol is on Tuesday, Feb. 9 at 6 p.m. Registration is required.
The UH System is advocating for stable formula funding, the most important factor in making a college education affordable to Texans, in addition to asking for an increase in financial aid/TEXAS Grants – state grants that go directly to students.
The University of Houston has six major priorities this session:
- UH College of Medicine: Maintain the state’s $20 million in non-formula support and grant Health Related Institution formula funding to meet the needs of this medical school on the cutting edge of primary care focused medical education.
- Hobby School of Public Affairs: Maintain the funding the legislature generously provided during the 2019 legislative session to begin transforming the existing building, originally constructed in the early 1970s, into a world-class facility.
- Top 50 University: Conduct a study to determine the economic impact of elevating UH to a top 50 ranked public university. Since 2008, the University has already increased its ranking from 127th to 87th, the fastest rise among all public universities.
- UH Carbon Management Hub: Support establishment of the UH Carbon Management Hub to promote rapid and transformative deployment of carbon capture utilization and storage technologies.
- Infrastructure Support: A request for funding of debt service on a 180,000 square foot IDEA Lab building to house a number of innovation and entrepreneurial-related programs; and a new 150,000 square foot academic building at UH at Sugar Land to provide additional classrooms, laboratories and worker space.
- Mental Health Funding: Requesting a change to the state statute, Section 54.526 of the Education Code, governing the available uses of the existing student center fee which will free up other University financing for mental health services.
The full UH System legislative agenda is available here.