With the return of the Texas Legislature fast approaching, many interest groups are cementing their wish lists that they’ll be bringing to Austin.
Among them is the University of Texas, which has approved a lobbying agenda that could have been ripped from the Democrat Platform.
On nearly every issue, the University of Texas is advocating for liberal policy outcomes on areas leading lawmakers have targeted for conservative reform.
First is a change in campus carry which was passed last session. Lobbyists for the university want to retain a loophole in the law that allows campus presidents to establish gun-exclusion zones. Unlike most other universities who applied the law appropriately by establishing narrow exclusions, Texas administrators openly defied the law.
In spite of clear legislative intent by State Sens. Van Taylor (R–Plano) and Brian Birdwell (R–Granbury), university regents defied the Legislature and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton by voting to approve a plan by UT President Greg Fenves to ban concealed carry in campus dormitories.
Despite the universities’ screams of danger and wails of obscene implementation costs, no gun-related incident has been reported on any campus since the law has been implemented and costs have been less than a tenth of what was predicted. When asked about the impact of campus carry on his campus, West Texas A&M administrator Mike Knox described the change as a “non-issue.”
“It’s been totally a non-issue,” Knox told the Amarillo Globe-News. “In fact, the biggest issue we had is we have to replace signs because the wind bent them. Other than that, no cases or other issues. It’s really not had an impact on our campus life whatsoever.”
On tuition, the UT System is actively fighting Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s effort to rein-in rampant tuition growth by having the Legislature set tuition rates. University lobbyists are also charged with preserving tuition set-asides, an effective 20 percent tax on college students that amounts to wealth redistribution that Patrick has targeted for repeal.
Additionally, the university is fighting to defend in-state tuition for illegal immigrants all while demanding that benefits for military veterans be scaled back.
In the wake of calls to ban sanctuary cities, students and faculty members are advocating for the campus to stonewall immigration authorities and become a “sanctuary campus” for illegal immigrants. That move has prompted harsh criticism from Gov. Greg Abbott who has pledged to strip funding from universities that refuse to comply with federal immigration laws.
“Texas will not tolerate sanctuary campuses or cities,” Abbott said. “I will cut funding for any state campus if it establishes sanctuary status.”
While liberal university administrators advocating for liberal political outcomes is hardly surprising, the overtness of the University of Texas’ contempt and disdain for both the Texas Legislature and the citizens that elected them is staggering.
With state leaders already asking the university to trim its budget by 4 percent for the next biennium, conservatives incensed at the university’s open defiance, and Houston Democrats fuming at UT’s attempt to place a campus in the Bayou City, theft of the University of Houston’s football coach, and failure to deliver UH a Big 12 invite, one would think that the Longhorn establishment would tread carefully.
That said, treading carefully has never been the strong suit of an entitled and arrogant university establishment that would be in jail if it weren’t for its ties to the political establishment.
It is beyond time for the Texas Legislature to dethrone the aristocracy and put these burnt orange bureaucrats in their place. They can do so by passing the conservative legislation that their constituents elected them to pass.