An avowed ally of controlling university tuition costs, Representative Dan Branch (R) has nevertheless given mixed signals concerning the UT Higher Ed controversy. Branch co-chairs the Joint Oversight Committee on Higher Education Governance, Excellence, and Transparency.
It’s unlikely he’ll spend political capital on liberal Democrat Senator Judith Zaffirini’s one woman conspiracy crusade against accountability in higher ed, especially given his own commitment to controlling tuition costs. Given growing suspicions among Republican voters that words and actions don’t match up in some politicians, Branch would do well to make his position harder to mistake.
On his personal political website, he cites the need to cap university tuition increases. He also published, in full, Michael Quinn Sullivan’s scathing commentary concerning the need for reform in Texas higher ed.
However, he’s also recently carried an Austin American-Statesman article that was little more than a Zaffirini press release, frantically warning Texans to keep a look out for boards of regents. This is part of her growing conspiracy theory about how boards of regents calling for transparency and accountability in teaching, research, and money-spending are really angling for the destruction of the universities they’re responsible for.
This special committee was formed to oversee the boards of regents. Regents are the overseers of universities. By itself, this smacks of hostility against the regents from Zaffirini.
However, with Senator Zaffirini on an increasingly unstable-looking crusade to spread conspiracy in service of the higher ed establishment, and the growing problem she creates for Lt. Gov. Dewhurst’s next election campaign, will Rep. Branch spend political capital siding with a liberal Democrat, Zaffirini, over Governor Perry and Texas conservatives?
It’s an unlikely issue for Branch to risk himself on, and even worse timing in which to do it. As such, an increased profile would go a long way to assuaging constituents unsure if he delivers on his principles. Delivery on campaign principles is a narrative with an increasing profile in Texas Republican politics.
–Dan Branch on tuition increase caps
–Michael Sullivan’s higher ed commentary on Branch’s personal website
–Statesman forum for Zaffirini on Branch’s website
–Dewhurst’s Zaffirini problem