Houston Chronicle, April 14, 2011
Texas Senate budget-writers have voted to liquidate a $430 million endowment for health-related higher education institutions and allow them either to save the money or use it to offset budget cuts. "Members, we're out of money," Senate Finance Committee Chairman Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, said in pushing the proposal. He cited an overall cut of 15 percent, or $358 million, for the 10 institutions in a bare-bones budget proposal for the next two-year budget period. But the proposal has a powerful opponent in House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie. He said he is against dismantling the endowment, created with part of the proceeds from the state's tobacco lawsuit settlement. "I don't favor it, and I would speak against it," Pitts said Wednesday. "I just think that's our savings account. Once it's gone, it's gone."