HB 1025 will help pay for Hazlewood legacy recipients
Published: Monday, October 21, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 00:10
The state Legislature will delegate appropriations to public institutions of higher education this year as a means of reimbursing tuition revenue lost through the Hazlewood and the Hazlewood Legacy Acts.
The Hazlewood Act is a state-wide initiative that gives tuition exemptions to honorably discharged military veterans who attend college. The Hazlewood Legacy Act provides the same benefit to the spouses and children of those who have served or are currently serving in the military.
“The Hazlewood exemption has been around for a long time,” said Al Hooten, vice president of Finance and Operations for Sam Houston State University. “Then they did the Hazlewood Legacy, which came around in 2008 to 2009 and exponentially increased the amount of revenue lost [by the university] through Hazlewood.”
House Bill 1025 will provide $30 million to be distributed to Texas public institutions that are affected by the acts. Although the state will reimburse SHSU with roughly $1 million, according to Hooten, that is merely a dent in the total revenue lost.
“It will certainly come in handy,” Hooten said. “However, it’s only maybe one-fourth or one-fifth of what we’re losing through Hazlewood, which is roughly $5 million annually.”
Although universities will benefit from HB 1025, it is only a one-time grant of appropriations to make up for Hazlewood.
According to Hooten, the money received this year will be used to pay salaries and replace funds for some one-time programs and projects.
“We’ll have to wait until the 2015 Legislature to see if there will be any future reimbursements,” Hooten said. “By presenting our concerns, we can see how many millions of dollars state-wide are lost through Hazlewood annually and how it is impacting the state. It’s a big state with a big budget, and education is always one of its main priorities. But just like any other budget, a lot of the funds have already been committed to other issues. ”
Although all Texas public schools are affected by Hazlewood, SHSU is impacted significantly, Hooten said.
“SHSU is one of the more impacted institutions, primarily because of our programs—especially our criminal justice program,” Hooten said. “Ex-military tend to go into that field, so a lot of them tend to come here.”
Money lost through Hazlewood has to be made up somewhere, and Hooten said that money is received through increased tuitions of other non-Hazlewood students.
“Our concern is that the government makes these exemptions, but they don’t fund it,” Hooten said. “If they recognize the societal responsibility we have to take care of ex-military, then fund it, but don’t ask us to charge our students more.”
Regardless of how much money is lost through the Hazlewood Acts, Hooten said he thinks it is a necessary and well-deserved exemption.
“It is a well-meaning act, and I think we have a responsibility to support these young men and women,” Hooten said. “Some are coming back extremely injured and some aren’t coming back at all. We as a society need to recognize the sacrifice that certain people make to keep us free and keep us safe, so I don’t argue with the idea or the concept—it’s just that we need a way to fund it.