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Poll: Most Houston voters favor higher-education research amendment

An 11 News/KUHF Houston Public Radio poll finds broad support for Proposition Four in the Houston area.
By Lee McGuire / 11 News

The proposed constitutional amendment would release approximately half a billion dollars from a state bank account, and make it available to seven public universities in Texas over the next several years. Because the money is already being held by the state, approval of the proposition would not require a tax increase.

Supporters say diverting the money currently held in the state’s Higher Education Fund to a “National Research University Fund” would help those universities become “tier one” research centers. Under the plan, universities would have to raise matching funds from private sources before they would be able to access the state dollars.

According the poll, 63 percent of likely voters in the city of Houston plan to vote in favor of Proposition Four, while 14 percent plan to vote against it. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.2 percent.

The state money would help the seven eligible universities become “Tier One” public institutions. Currently, Texas has two such universities – the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M. Rice University is also a Tier One institution, but it is private, not public.

The other so-called “emerging research universities” that would be eligible for funding if Proposition Four passes are the University of Houston, Texas Tech University, the University of North Texas, the University of Texas at Arlington, the University of Texas at Dallas, the University of Texas at El Paso, and the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Vote ‘Yes’ on Proposition 4 for Tier One
Amendment would create fund to further emerging research universities’ goals
Dr. Renu Khator’s interview with KPRC’s Kim Davis aired this past Sunday morning.

Time for UTA, UNT and Tech to get mad and get even

If I was a Tech Red Raider, I’d be mad.
And not just because Coach Mike Leach blamed a loss on the players’ “fat little girlfriends.”
If I loved the North Texas Mean Green or the UT-Arlington Mavericks, I’d be furious, too — mad enough to go vote now for Proposition 4.
A political e-mail making the rounds basically calls Tech, UNT and UT-Arlington stupid.
Just when voters have a chance to invest an extra $25 million in those and four other universities, bashers are arguing that their students just aren’t worth as much as the geniuses in Austin or College Station.
Tech, UNT and UT-Arlington have “mediocre scores at best” and don’t deserve the Proposition 4 money, according to Ronald Trowbridge of Conroe, a retired Michigan university official and author of a commentary distributed by religious and anti-tax conservatives.
UNT student President Dakota Carter, 21, a political science major from Shamrock, is smart enough to read the commentary very clearly.
“They’re calling us stupid,” he said by phone Thursday from campus.
“They’re saying we’re not worth the money. I don’t take very kindly to that.”
Proposition 4 would offer more money to Tech, UNT and UT-Arlington, plus the University of Houston and University of Texas campuses in El Paso, Richardson and San Antonio.
Right now, the average freshman SAT score at Tech, UNT and UT-Arlington is about 1100.
Trowbridge basically asks why we should spend money on such dim bulbs.
“Why,” he wrote, “are we worried about brain drain?”
UT-Arlington’s student president is communications major Kent Long, 21, of Gorman.
“People go to UT for the opportunities,” he said.
“Why not offer opportunity at more schools?”
UNT alumni Director Derrick Morgan, a graduate of Texas Tech, is more worried about helping Tech and UNT win this election than about football victories.
“In a state the size of Texas, we ought to be worried that we’re so far behind in research universities,” he said.
Proposition 4 would shift a now-dormant endowment fund to offer research grants to the seven universities. It doesn’t cost us more in taxes, although Trowbridge predicts that the campuses will ask for even more money.
Trowbridge, an English scholar and formerly a controversial vice president at archconservative, private Hillsdale College in Michigan, wrote the commentary for the Austin-based anti-tax lobbying group Empower Texans.
He said his “brain drain” comment was “not a slur — it’s just an accurate reporting of the facts.”
His response to students:
“Your academic scores aren’t very good,” he said. “So why do you deserve extra money?”
Vote today or Tuesday.
This is a game Tech, UNT and UT-Arlington need to win.

Bud Kennedy’s column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 817-390-7538 Twitter @budkennedy

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