As parents of 5, Dan and Stacey Branch are facing many of the same challenges he hears about during visits with students and parents across the district and state. After serving on the House Public Education and Appropriations committees, Rep. Branch was appointed Chairman of the House Committee on Higher Education in 2009. His accomplishments include:
Tier One Initiative: Creates a performance-based funding structure to support the race for more Texas National Research Universities. Three North Texas institutions: UT-Dallas, University of North Texas & UT-Arlington are among the 7 Emerging Research Universities selected for the competition. The University of Houston, UT-San Antonio, UT-El Paso and Texas Tech are also included in the program.
Top 10% Reform: Caps automatic admissions at UT Austin at 75% of incoming freshman class. Allows Top 10% students who attend community college before transferring to the university system to retain their eligibility status. This balanced solution ensures automatic admission to thousands of more students than when the Top 10% law was implemented, but allows one of our premier Tier One universities to continue to admit a broader group of outstanding students.
Reducing Tuition Increases: While many universities in other states were cutting classes and instituting double digit tuition increases, Dan led the successful effort to keep most public college tuition increases in Texas from exceeding 3.95%.
21st Century Classrooms: Provides local school districts the flexibility to purchase interactive content and classroom materials with a portion of state textbook funds.
Expansion of UNT Dallas: Formalized creation of UNT Dallas and authorized creation of the UNT Dallas College of Law - the first public law school in North Texas. D/FW is currently the nation’s largest metro area without a public option for legal education.
Reining in Robin Hood: Recent school finance reforms lowered the property tax rate and shifts more responsibility for funding public school back to the state where it belongs. Since 2006, these reforms have saved Dallas ISD property owners over $785 million and HPISD residents over $163 million. Including Dallas ISD, 26 districts have escaped Robin Hood status, and recapture payments for remaining property wealthy districts have decreased.
Increasing Competition for State Research Grants: Conducting innovative basic research allows universities to create valuable intellectual property, and establish the "proof-of-concept" work necessary to secure federal research or other external funding. Dan passed legislation to allow independent universities, like SMU & TCU in North Texas, to submit their best ideas and compete for certain state research grants.
Rep. Branch is hard at work preparing a legislative package for next session to address the rising cost of college textbooks, improve our financial aid system and gain more transparency and productivity from our colleges and universities.