Commissioner Ellis Leads Commissioners Court’s Approval of Resolution Supporting Equitable Funding for Universities Serving Black and Brown Students

14 Nov, 23

Harris County Commissioners Court on Tuesday approved a resolution by Commissioner Rodney Ellis calling for the State of Texas to take immediate action to rectify the funding disparities for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and higher education institutions serving Latinos.

The resolution calls on Abbott to add Prairie View A&M University funding to the Legislature’s current special session in compliance with the Biden Administration's warning that the state is over $1.1 billion in arrears to the land-grant university. It also asks Gov. Greg Abbott’s administration to conduct a broader review of funding policies at both public HBCUs and Hispanic Serving Institutions to address any continuing discrimination.

“This resolution seeks to address ongoing neglect and possible racially discriminatory funding policies of our Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic Serving Institutions,” Commissioner Ellis said.  “It appears there also are ongoing funding disparities with Texas’s other HBCU, Texas Southern University, and possibly some Hispanic Serving Institutions such as the University of Houston-Downtown.”

Since 2009, Commissioner Ellis said, funding at Prairie View has declined by 5 percent.  Funding at TSU has declined by 14.6 percent and UH-D dropped by 15 percent.

By abandoning its financial responsibilities to these institutions, the state may be violating its obligations under an agreement Texas signed to address continuing segregation in its funding decisions.

In 2001, the resolution states, the Texas Legislature and governor first appropriated an additional $50 million to Prairie View and TSU as part of the Texas Agreement reached the previous year “in an effort to eliminate vestiges of historic discrimination.” However, since the 2010-2011 biennium, five general revenue appropriations at those institutions have remained stagnant while those to the flagship universities have ballooned.

"In recognizing the dire financial situation of our HBCUs, this resolution demands an urgent response from state leaders," stated Commissioner Ellis. "The data portrays a distressing decline in state investment for these institutions, impacting the educational opportunities provided by Prairie View, Texas Southern, and the University of Houston-Downtown."