Among the most controversial issues in House Bill 1, the base budget, is its denial of state funding to four community colleges: Odessa College, Brazosport College, Ranger College, and Frank Phillips College. While the bill does not represent a final decision, critics say presenting the proposed budget executions this way is as dangerous as the methodology behind the decision is misleading.
State Rep. Dennis Bonnen, a Republican from Angleton, says House Appropriations Chairman Jim Pitts, a Republican from Waxahachie, did the "honorable" thing on Tuesday by calling with advance notice that the community college in Bonnen's district, Brazosport College, would be one of the four not receiving funding in the proposed legislation. Bonnen appreciated the call, but still calls the approach "terribly irresponsible."
Bonnen describes Brazosport College as "the hub and center" of his district - one that local industry relies on for job training and that community members go to for education and cultural pursuits. "The thought of losing an institution like that is kind of debilitating," he says. Though he recognizes that the base budget is "nowhere near" how the final budget will look, Bonnen says that even suggesting a college might be closed is "significant" and even "disastrous." Students will begin looking to transfer, and others might decide to not bother enrolling.
"It creates a high degree of uncertainty," he says. "As policymakers, we'd better be damned sure it's something we're going to do if we create that uncertainty."
And Bonnen feels strongly that the school will, ultimately get that funding once his arguments have been made.