OUR VIEW: Make your voice heardTHE POINT — Grab your phone and make a quick call to help higher education in Texas.

The Odessa Chamber of Commerce has issued something of a call to arms to help the University of Texas of the Permian Basin.
We couldn’t agree more with this call to arms.
The proposed Senate budget that is now being discussed in our state legislature calls for major cuts in higher education. That is a problem for all of us and especially the faculty and students at UTPB. So many have worked so hard during the last couple of decades to make UTPB into a fine educational institution, and it would be a shame for all that hard work to be for nothing.
If the budget goes through the way it is proposed, it would mean up to a 52 percent cut to UTPB, which translates to a $10.5 million cut per year ($20.9 million for the biennium).
The president of UTPB, David Watts has indicated the decisions could be made as early as this week pertaining to the funding for UTPB.
It is important to remember that UTPB is solely funded through line-item funding, as they do not receive other tax dollars. Now is the time for concerned constituents to step up and make phone calls to voice our extreme concerns for future funding for UTPB, chamber officials wrote in a letter to Odessans.
It’s not difficult to make the phone calls. Here’s what the chamber said:
The phone call is very simple. You most likely will speak with the Legislator’s staff member. You state your name and city, and that you are calling to request full line-item funding for UTPB. That translates into adding back $10.5 million per year for UTPB in the proposed Senate Budget (Senate Bill 1).
Your phone calls to these elected officials are the life line for UTPB at this point. The call could at least mean UTPB’s budget would remain the same as it was in the previous two years. Otherwise, if the current budget is adopted, it means up to a 52 percent cut in programs such as nursing, engineering, SBDC, JBS Leadership program and certainly staff positions across the board at UTPB.
We agree that cuts in funding would harm the educational future of all West Texans who make use of the university. Now is not the time for cuts but rather for keeping what we have and even growing it as our economy needs educated minds.

Here are the folks to contact:

  • Sen. Jane Nelson, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, 512-463-0112.
  • Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, 512-463-0001.
  • State Senator Kel Seliger, Member of the Finance Committee and chair of Higher Education Committee. (he also represents Odessa/Ector County), 512-463-0131.

There are other cuts that can affect us locally as well. The chamber letter pointed out that TTUHSC faces a possible reduction in special items. Sul Ross State University in Alpine also faces possible funding cuts.
Make some calls — it only takes a few minutes of your time and it could help all of us in Odessa and surrounding areas by keeping our higher education institutions running.