Facing the threat of losing its state funding under a new law, the board of Austin’s Central Health voted Thursday night to stop providing abortions to low-income women, the Austin American-Statesman reported. (more…)
Comedy Central host and super PAC architect Stephen Colbert considered Gov. Rick Perry’s entry into the “embarrassment… of riches” that makes up the GOP presidential field last night, with a segment considering Perry’s history with coyotes and with God.
Colbert quotes from a transcript of one of Perry’s fundraisers for his upcoming prayer rally, “The Response,” in which he said, “It’s time to just hand it over to God and say, God, you’re gonna have to fix this.”
Colbert follows by paraphrasing: “Perry has looked our problems squarely in the eye and said, ‘I got nothin’. Jump in any time here.’”
He also mentions the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s suit over Perry’s involvement with the event, on the grounds that Perry’s involvement violates church and state separation. Colbert says, “It doesn’t cross the line between church and state. It erases it.”
Perry has called critics of his event “intolerant,” but the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas continued the push today, announcing its open records requests with Perry’s office and local government in Houston to determine whether any state money has been spent on the event.
“The ACLU of Texas values the diversity of belief systems in public life, and each of our beliefs calls us to address problems in different ways. But none of us, especially an elected official, is in the position to say whether believers or non-believers should lead the way in solving our common problems,” director Terri Burke said in a statement.
Watch the clip on “The Colbert Report“
Dr. Robert S. Nelsen, president of the University of Texas-Pan American in Edinburg, said that state budget cuts have dealt a particularly harsh blow to Hispanic-serving institutions like his, where 89 percent of students are on financial aid and 59 percent have Pell grants.
At this school in the Rio Grande Valley just miles from the Mexican border, students’ average family income is around $29,000 a year and most work at least part-time.
Nelsen is concerned he will have to make major cuts in faculty, staff and classes.
“We did everything possible not to cut classes from the schedule, so we cut other services. We cut $180,000 in distance education, $291,000 in travel, $300,000 in startup funds for faculty, $68,000 in marketing,” he said. That’s just the beginning.
“The money was cut so we could keep the grants for the students,” he said. The Texas Legislature, he said, did help by providing $23 million in TEXAS grants, which will fund 1,538 students. “That still leaves us short. It looks like about 535 students we will be funding with other grants. I think we will be able to cover most of the kids, and that’s been our priority.”
“We are at the new normal,” he said. “I don’t think the funds will ever come back. We have to be more efficient with what we are doing. We are already doing more with less, and now we are going to have to do less with less.”
“We will have to be very aggressive at pursuing grants and federal dollars. And we will have to really ramp up what we are doing with philanthropy. We received more Texas grants than any other institutions. And we have been deliberately able to keep tuition low.”
He said that Hispanic-serving universities like his will be the ones shaping the future of the state. Nelsen said faculty salaries at UT-PA are less than at “just about any other place,” but the university’s staff has a mission: “to educate the people of the Rio Grande Valley.”
“People need to realize that the future of Texas is South Texas and the Rio Grande Valley,” Nelsen said. “In Texas high schools, 50.2 percent of the students are Hispanic. Pan Am is not just going to survive, it is going to thrive.”
Last week the Texas Independent looked at how budget cuts and higher ed reforms are affecting Texas A&M University-Kingsville.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s post-election media blitz continued yesterday when he appeared on Fox News Sunday.
Host Chris Wallace followed the general media trend of questioning Perry’s intentions for 2012. As he has throughout the past month, (more…)