Education and Work Force Development

Introduction

Education is the largest single category of state spending, accounting for $11.9 billion or about 41 percent of all state expenditures in fiscal 1992. Educational programs that receive state aid range fr om kindergartens to elementary and secondary schools to universities, and include technical schools, community and junior colleges, medical schools and educational programs for the handicapped and those in prison institutions.

Increasingly, Texans are recognizing a direct and critical link between the educational system at all levels and the development of a skilled work force. This is a primary conclusion of the Comptroller s Forces of Change study which will be released later this year. In recognition of this link, proposals concerning work force development, such as job training, are included in this section along with public and higher education recommendations.

Public Education
During the 1991-92 school year, Texas 1,050 independent school districts employed 390,000 Texans and served a student population of 3.4 million children.

School districts receive revenues from local, state and federal governments. In 1991-92, Texas school district budgets totalled $16.8 billion, of which $7.4 billion or 44.0 percent was supplied by the state. Local revenues accounted for $8.0 billion, or 47.6 percent of the total; various federal aid programs supplied another $1.4 billion or 8.3 percent.

Some of TPR s proposals in this area would deregulate the process by which public school textbooks are purchased, placing more control in the hands of the schools themselves, and increase incentives for small school districts to consolidate to achieve grea ter economies of scale. Others would encourage cooperative programs be tween public schools and colleges and universities, to improve the facilities and resources available to public schools and the quality of future candidates for higher education. Another series of proposals would focus Texas vocational education programs on types of technical training most likely to lead to meaningful employment for youths who do not plan to attend college.

Perhaps most importantly, TPR proposes measures that would hold high schools responsible for the quality of their graduates, by reduc ing state appropriations to schools that consistently turn out poorly achieving students, and by requiring schools to guarantee their graduates to future employers.


Higher Education
Texas has more than 150 public and private institutions of higher education, with total enrollments of more than 903,000. Texas public higher education system includes 35 general academic institutions; 49 community or junior college districts; the Texas State Technical College system (TSTC), which offers technical training through four campuses and four extension centers, and seven state medical schools and two dental schools, as well as allied health and nursing units. For the 1992-93 biennium, the Legislature appropriated nearly $8.2 billion to agencies and institutions of higher education.

Public senior colleges and universities are funded by a combination of state and federal aid and tuition, fees and other revenue generated locally by the institutions themselves. Public junior and community colleges are funded through state aid ($1.1 billion in the 1992-93 budget period), federal funds, tuition and local property taxes. TSTC has no independent tax base and depends primarily on state general revenue appropriations (nearly 69 percent of all funding in fiscal 1991), tuitio n and federal aid.

TPR s would ensure adequate funding sources for~ TSTC. Other proposals concerning higher education include a reduction in the academic scholarship waiver cap, which limits the number of out-of-state students who can attend Texas colleges and universities at the lower in-state rate, and a change in the way general revenue appropriations are allocated to higher education. Currently, colleges and universities receive this funding as an annual payment, much as is done with allocations to scho ol districts under the Foundation School Program.


Work Force Development
Business leaders cite a trained~and skilled work force as by far the most important factor in deciding where to relocate or expand a business. Work force development programs suppl ement conventional educational programs by offering workers training in specific job skills and job search methods and information on job markets.

At present, responsibility for work force development in Texas is diffused among a number of authorities, including five state agencies and six advisory commissions and committees, as well as dozens of local committees. TPR s recommendations would weld this welter of programs into a more efficient Texas Commission on Commerce and Labor, which would be charged w ith developing integrated and comprehensive policies on economic and work force development. The new commission would administer a fund to train workers for new and expanding businesses and to retrain workers dislocated by economic shifts or changes in tec hnology.

Many of TPR s recommendations on education and work force development would produce improvements in efficiency and effectiveness that cannot be estimated. Those that can would increase the amounts available for spending by the Legislature by more than $649 million in fiscal 1994-95, and reduce state employment by an estimated 87 positions. Other dedicated state accounts and funds would lose about $14 million, primarily because funds would be diverted to the General Revenue Fund for use.

Over the next five years (1994-1998), these recommendations would produce continuing savings totaling nearly $865 million. Texas dedicated accounts and funds would lose about $7 million. Total employment reductions would be essentially the same as for the 1992-95 biennium.

Continue to the First Education Issue: ED 1 Make an Allocation of Certain Investment Income from the Permanent School Fund