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The net fiscal implications of the bill cannot be determined at this
time. It is estimated that institutions of higher education will see a
decrease in tuition and fee revenue each fiscal year from 2016-2020 due
to an increase in recipients receiving the exemption from the changes to
residency requirements. It is estimated that institutions of higher
education will see an increase in tuition and fee revenue each fiscal
year beginning primarily in fiscal year 2018 due predominantly to
changes to the Legacy Program with a probable increase in the range of
$60.0 million to $80.0 million each fiscal year.
The overall net change in the waived tuition and fee revenue at institutions of higher education due to changes to the exemption cannot be determined primarily due to the lack of information on the number of students affected by provisions of the bill relating to residency requirements and the limitation on the number of years after active duty discharge that the exemption can be used. Included below is information regarding the estimated fiscal implication.
No fiscal implication to units of local government is anticipated.
SB 1735 would remove the fixed point residency requirement of the Hazlewood Act. Instead, out-of-state veterans (individuals not born in Texas) would be required to maintain continuous residency in Texas for at least eight years before receiving the exemption. This would not apply to veterans receiving the exemption before the spring semester of 2016.
The bill would make the following changes regarding legacy recipients (child or spouse); a limitation on the number of semester credit hours (SCHs) eligible to be transferred to a legacy recipient to 60 SCHs, a decrease from the current 150 SCHs eligible for transfer; a requirement for a veteran to have served on active military duty, excluding training, for at least six years to transfer SCHs to a legacy recipient, a decrease from the current requirement of 180 days of active military duty; provide that a legacy recipients may use transferred SCHs as an undergraduate student only; and require a legacy recipient to maintain a course load of at least 24 SCHs per academic year and a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of a 2.5 on a four point scale.
SB 1735 was amended with minor changes that do not affect the intent of the legislation or our vote recommendation. We support SB 1735 in the second chamber. The second chamber sponsor is Representative John Zerwas.
First chamber recommendation:
This bill affirms the principle of limited government. The state of Texas has committed to providing higher education tuition and fee exemptions for veterans who joined the military as a Texan and were honorably discharged from active duty, so the government has a responsibility to ensure that the agreement is honored and the exemption is given to Texas residents.
SB 1753 would prevent individuals who have not long resided in Texas from taking advantage of benefits paid for by the state of Texas; that is to say, the taxpayers of Texas. For example, under existing law a person from another state could be eligible for these benefits by simply declaring Texas their home of record upon entering the military. A person could also be born in Texas, leave the state as a child and grow up their entire life outside of the state, move to Texas after being discharged from the military, and claim the benefits Texas generously provides.
The provisions of this bill would require that, going forward, an eight year period of continuous residency be established before a veteran would be eligible for the program. The bill would also require higher standards for legacy recipients that use the exemption to pursue an education. For these reasons, we support SB 1753.