No One Would Be Watching

Government accountability is a pesky thing. Taxpayers deserve it. Politicians promise it. But when the entrenched bureaucracy balks, legislators quiver and cower. That seems to be the case playing out in higher education right now.

A little background.

Regents at the University of Texas have been asking questions about finances, processes and personnel. That is as it should be. After all, regents serve to keep a public university’s faculty and staff on track with their charted mission.

The problem, of course, is that higher-ed is filled with entitlement-minded prima donnas convinced that questions of accountability with taxpayer funds and resources shouldn’t apply to them.

So they howl when someone asks questions. Our elected lawmakers – often anxious to get free tickets to sporting events and nice seats in the luxury boxes – quickly react in exactly the wrong way.


Sen. Kel Seliger
That’s what is happening this week, with State Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo) promising legislation to curtail the oversight regents can provide in our public institutions of (alleged) higher education. He says regents are “micromanaging” when they start asking for real data, instead of accepting spoon-fed pabulum from administrators.

One wonders what the higher-ed bureaucracy – and their water-boy who chairs Senate Higher Education – doesn’t want regents to see. (And to think I’d been marginally hopeful that Mr. Seliger wouldn’t be a complete sell-out shill for the bureaucrats when appointed to his post by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. I should have known better.)

So… let’s get this straight. Mr. Seliger and his colleagues in the Legislature can’t (and won’t) do the due diligence necessary to check on the appropriate use of tax and tuition dollars, or verify the operational integrity of the institutions. And now he doesn’t want the regents doing so, either.

That leaves taxpayers, parents and students with no one watching the spenders. If Sen. Seliger gets his way, the higher education bureaucracy would, by law, have no meaningful oversight.

Ironically, Kel Seliger has no problem micromanaging nearly everything else. He routinely votes for higher taxes, more regulations, more fees, and fewer taxpayer protections. He even has voted to micromanage what kind of water can be used in water-feature “displays”!

It would seem the senator is content with the foxes guarding the hen-house. Evidently, Kel Seliger erroneously believes he works for the bureaucracy, not the taxpayers, lest he wouldn’t be working so quickly to erode accountability.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael is president and CEO of Empower Texans, and its premier project, Texans for Fiscal Responsibility. A graduate of Texas A&M, former newspaper reporter, one-time Capital Hill staffer, think tank vice president and an Eagle Scout, Sullivan is married with three children. He divides his time between the Metroplex, the rest of Texas, and Austin.

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