By Ivan Kipp
A new bill proposed at the Austin YMCA Texas Youth & Government District Conference is seeking to promote affordable public college in Texas by implementing a gasoline tax. The bill passed unanimously.
This bill was presented by Hays High School Delegate Dylan Cousins, who is a senior.
Delegate Cousins says that this bill will enact a “small to medium increase in gas tax” to ensure that any family making under 125,000 a year will be able to attend a two to four year program at any Texas public college for free given that they are residents in the state of Texas, take 30 credits per calendar year, and plan to stay and work in Texas following their graduation for the same amount of time they were apart of the program.
Delegate Cousins claims that “we need to reduce student debt”, and that the state will do so by implementing the tax previously mentioned on gas. Cousins says that his bill “closely mirrors legislation in New York” and current practices at Rice University in Houston, Texas. The tax will be determined by the Texas Education Agency, who will evaluate the cost of implementing the bill and instruct the Texas comptroller to raise the gas tax to cover the costs, as stated in Cousins bill. Cousins also says that it “is of vital importance to the state” that the TEA reports these projected costs. To fluctuate accordingly with changes in the economy, the TEA will re-evaluate the cost and if necessary propose a change in the legislature.
Cousin argued that an increase in gas tax would “give Texas better education and will reduce student debt.”
Cousin added that the bill will only apply two or four-year public colleges, excluding private universities.
Delegate Nambala from Vista Ridge in support of the bill agreed that “we won’t have much pain, but mostly gain after passing or re-evaluation” of the bill.
Delegate Cousins said that the benefit of the reduced bachelor’s degree will benefit the lower class to a greater effect. According to the Economic Policy Institute, “college graduates, on average, earned 56% more than high school grads in 2015”.
This act shall take effect beginning the 2022-2023 school year for all public universities.