Members of the Senate Finance Committee approved the higher education portion of the Senate's version of the budget on Wednesday.
The committee is currently in the process of considering workgroup recommendations on major portions of the budget in preparation for a final version to put before the full Senate, which should go before the body in the next two weeks. The higher education budget approved Wednesday would put more money in colleges for financial aid, faculty salaries and medical schools.
One of the goals of the higher education workgroup, according to Sen. Robert Duncan of Lubbock, was to restore some of the funding that was cut last biennium. With the money available to them, the workgroup was able to put back more than half of the college formula funds cut since 2010-2011. This is the money that pays for faculty and the general quality of education for students at state institutions.
The committee also approved a financing plan that will completely change the way community colleges are funded. Under the Senate plan, each school would get a set amount of base funding. Then additional money would be allocated based on two metrics: contact time and student success.