As I mentioned yesterday, I haven’t been paying much attention to state politics the past couple of months. A reader alerted me to the Texas Senate’s passage of Sen. Brian Birdwell’s SB1735, a bill which cuts veterans benefits for education. Here is the reader’s passionate plea:
This is something I think that is important and all Texans need to hear about.
In regards to the proposed changes to Hazlewood Legacy in Senator Birdwell’s SB 1735:
As a Veteran, I am sure I speak for many other Veterans when I say I feel that this is absurd to cut benefits that were promised to those who’ve served and continue to serve this nation and state; Active, Guard and Reserve. This is outrageous that the politicians in Austin would even think of taking this away from those who have earned this. You politicians in Austin want to cut spending, do it elsewhere. I am sure there are budgets that could be managed better; leave this one out of it. You want to take away an opportunity that some of the most loyal, hardworking and brave men and women who’ve fault for this country and state were promised by this state. This is a blatant slap in the face to all Veterans who are Texans. Politicians want to talk about the education issues that Texas faces, what about Veterans and their spouses or kids educational needs? I say Texas needs to continue to be one of the most “Veteran friendly” states and go ahead and take this option off the table in Austin. I urge you to bring this up amongst one another and have a serious discussion and understand that these are men and women who have served Texas and our country honorably that we are talking about and if it weren’t for these men and women, our country and the great state of Texas wouldn’t be what it is. This just blows my mind that this is even an option being considered by the Texas Legislature. Sign the Defend Hazlewood Petition , share and pass along so we can make all Veterans, and folks who aren’t Veterans, aware of what is being considered in Austin. Even if you aren’t a Veteran, you can still sign this petition.
Republicans sponsoring bills cutting benefits for US Veterans? Other Republicans voting for those cuts? Seriously?
Yes, they did. Houston Chronicle reporter Benjamin Wermund has the report, Senate passes bill limiting tuition benefits for veterans’ families.
The Texas Senate took a step Tuesday toward limiting a program that provides free tuition to veterans and their children in an effort to rein in the ballooning costs of the program.
The bill, passed on a 24-7 vote, would adjust residency requirements ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge in a case involving a University of Houston student earlier this year. Veterans would now have to live in Texas for eight years to earn benefits under the Hazlewood Act, which provides tuition and fee exemptions from state public universities for military veterans, their spouses and their children.
The bill would also require veterans to serve six years to pass on up to 120 credit hours to their children. And veterans only have a 15-year window to take advantage of the benefits after service under the bill.
The move comes as the Hazlewood Act, expanded in 2009 to allow veterans to transfer unused college credits to their children, has become an “unsustainable” financial burden on universities. Thousands more students took advantage of the benefits after the act was expanded, and the cost to colleges and universities soared from $24.7 million to $69.3 million in the first year alone. Costs have continued to rise steadily, with Texas public universities spending $169 million in tuition for Hazlewood benefits in 2014.
This is a delicate issue for Republicans. On the one hand, we have to reduce government spending. On the other hand, reducing benefits for those that volunteered to serve their country in the military? As Mr. Brinkley says,
You politicians in Austin want to cut spending, do it elsewhere.
I say Texas needs to continue to be one of the most “Veteran friendly” states and go ahead and take this option off the table in Austin. I urge you to bring this up amongst one another and have a serious discussion and understand that these are men and women who have served Texas and our country honorably that we are talking about and if it weren’t for these men and women, our country and the great state of Texas wouldn’t be what it is.