Senator Kel Seliger has been appointed to a new position by Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, as the head of the Senate Higher Education Committee. Seliger says he hopes to the added job title will help improve educational policies.
Senator Seliger has long been an advocate for education. He has served on the Public Education Committee since 2010. One of his passions is finding a new funding system for school districts. He says it's broken and it needs an overhaul.
Seliger replaces Democratic Senator Judith Zaffirini.
"I appreciate the opportunity to work with our colleges, universities, and community colleges, and the members of the committee to address one of the greatest challenges of the Legislature. The future and success of our state depends upon a well-trained and well educated workforce. We begin work today to try to ensure that every Texan who wants a higher education has an affordable opportunity," said State Senator Kel Seliger, (R) Amarillo
"Higher education is extremely important. We're educating and training the workforce that's essential to the future of the State of Texas. Public education and higher education are the two things that ensure that we have that kind of workforce," said Seliger.
His new position takes effect immediately. He says he already has plans in place to work closely with our area universities and colleges.
"Hopefully to help them in the mission that they got, which is an important one. There are six community colleges and two universities in this district. And I have a great working relationship with them," said Seliger.
He says his first step is creating the seven member committee that controls the flow of Legislative topics that affects public colleges and universities, like tuition costs.
"All of us have just got to get together and set the priorities for funding and it's not just colleges and universities, but public schools. And setting the foundation for the legislative work that we're going to do starting in January. Hopefully we will have a hearing maybe in late fall".
That hearing centers around a school funding lawsuit involving more than half of the 1,029 school districts in Texas including Amarillo and Canyon Independent School Districts. The lawsuit contends that the State's Legislature has failed time and time again to come up with a funding system that is equitable for all districts.
The current funding system is based on property tax revenues distributed by the state based on a complicated formula that funds districts per student. Those in support of an overhaul of the system say it's more than just about the money, but about treating school districts fairly.