Blinn College in Brenham is under attack. This is no joke. Several members of the Texas Legislature are attacking Blinn College with bills that could severely cripple its future. After 132 years of serving Washington and surrounding counties, the first county owned junior college in Texas is at a critical juncture….and needs your help. There are currently four bills in the hands of the Texas House Higher Education Committee that could hurt Blinn College.
Bryan State Representative John Raney has filed two bills. House Bill #1903 would require the Blinn Board to spend money received from tuition and fees and state funding on each of the college’s campuses in proportion to the number of contact hours at that campus. If passed, this bill could seriously tie the hands of the Blinn Board on spending money on the Brenham campus. This spring there are 2230 students enrolled on the Brenham campus, and 12,112 on the Bryan campus. While the Bryan campus suffers from overcrowded classrooms and facilities, the Blinn Board is addressing that issue with the recent purchase of 95 acres of land for a new campus. Tomorrow night they will begin the process of seeking architectural and engineering services to design a master plan for the new Bryan campus. I believe the Blinn Board is more qualified to decide how to spend money on the college’s campuses than John Raney and the Texas Legislature.
Raney has also filed House Bill #2621, which would require two new members to the Blinn Board be appointed by the Brazos County Commissioners Court. All of the current Board members are elected by Washington County voters, where property owners pay a tax to Blinn. There is no tax paid to Blinn by property owners in Brazos County. Where does Raney think the money came from in 1970 when Blinn opened a campus in Bryan? That money sure didn’t come from Brazos County or Bryan students, because there weren’t any before then.
Two more bills, House Bill #2231 filed by Allen Fletcher and #2361 filed by Cecil Bell, would remove Waller County from Blinn’s service district and put it in the hands of Lone Star College in Houston. This is nothing but a power grab by the largest and richest junior college system in Texas. They see the growth coming to Waller County, and want it for the Lone Star College system.
Why were all of these bills filed against Blinn College in the Texas House this session? I believe it’s because our longtime, powerful State Representative Lois Kolkhorst is now a State Senator. Kolkhorst has filed her own bill in the Senate to preserve Blinn’s current District territory, and to maintain the Blinn administration offices in Washington County. She will do what she can to block all of the damaging legislation once it reaches the Senate. But we need help from our freshman State Representative Leighton Schubert to try to stop it in the House. One of the bills, #1903 concerning proportionate funding, is already set for a public hearing in the House Higher Education Committee at 8 a.m. this Wednesday. And guess who is a member of that committee? John Raney, who is proposing it.
Things don’t look very good for Blinn College right now, but the fight isn’t over yet. I urge you to get involved by contacting Leighton Schubert and Lois Kolkhorst. Tell them to do everything they can to fight John Raney and Brazos County. If they want seats on the Blinn Board, let them pass a tax rate in Brazos County.....just like we have in Washington County. Don’t use the state legislature to bully your way in. Phone numbers and emails for Schubert and Kolkhorst are available on our website, KWHI.com. I’ve also included the same for John Raney, in case some of you would like to send him a message.
And that’s the way it looks to this Spectator.
State Representative Leighton Schubert
Phone #: 512-463-0600
State Senator Lois Kolkhorst
Phone #: 512-463-0118
State Representative John Raney
Phone #: 512-463-0698