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Comptroller's Desk

A Bold Next Step

As a former public school teacher and former school board president, but most importantly as a mother and a grandmother, I have a deep and abiding interest in education excellence for all Texas children.

When I was sworn in as Texas Comptroller in 1999, I set 10 principles for Texas in the 21st Century. The first three are education-related, with the first being to develop a better-educated work force.

As expected, most "high-paying, high-skilled" jobs over the next 10 years will require post-secondary education. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that by the year 2030, nearly 60 percent of all Texans will have only a high school diploma or less. I say "Hogwash!" That's unacceptable and it's up to us to prove it wrong!

I have a plan that I will vigorously pursue during the next legislative session--TexasNextStep. I call it "next step" because--while I know it's not the last step--it is a necessary next step to keep Texas competitive in the 21st Century economy. I have already found ongoing annual cost savings and additional revenue, with no tax increase, to pay for it.

TexasNextStep will offer all Texas high school graduates the opportunity to attend college for two years at any public community college, technical college or two-year institution designated by the Legislature. It will provide tuition, required fees and textbooks free to any student who enrolls within 16 months of high school graduation. TexasNextStep will make K-14 education the norm, and it will set Texas apart in the race for future jobs.

My goal is crystal clear--I want Texas to have the most educated work force in the nation! I would rather spend $1,700 a year educating young Texans than $15,000 a year incarcerating them!

Carole Keeton Rylander
Texas Comptroller