March 2011

Statement of the Texas Section of the American Physical Society

The state of Texas is facing an estimated $15 billion revenue shortfall. The Legislative Budget Board has released a budget draft that proposes a decrease in funding of more than $700 million for Texas colleges and universities. We fully understand the need to fulfill the mandate from the Texas Constitution to operate with a balanced budget, but the proposed budget cuts in higher education would have an extremely detrimental and long lasting effect on the social fabric and the economic future of our state. Texas cannot compete in the global market place without skilled and innovative scientists, engineers, and citizens. For the sake of the future economic prosperity of Texas, we ask that funding for higher education be at least maintained, not cut.

Last year was the tenth anniversary of the adoption of an ambitious program of education that made all Texans proud of our vision for the future: The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) approved the Closing the Gaps Higher Education Plan, which stated "Texas is profiting from a diverse, vibrant and growing economy. Yet this prosperity could turn to crisis if steps are not taken quickly to ensure an educated population and workforce for the future". In a review document produced in April of last year, the "Accelerated Plan for Closing the Gaps by 2015", THECB stated that in spite of noticeable progress, Texas is behind its 2015 targets. It is clear that if our state.s investment in education is reduced significantly as proposed in the current budget draft, the progress that has been achieved in improving the quality and reach of education in Texas will be set back, and the consequences for our state.s future are dire. For the future of all citizens of Texas, we strongly urge the legislature to preserve the vitality of the higher education system by maintaining or increasing the current level of funding.

Executive Committee, Texas Section of the American Physical Society (an organization of 1575 physicists in academia and industry in Texas)