Cheaper textbooks, anyone? Student Government Association President Zaira Rodriguez, accompanied by SGA member Richard Delgado and Student Regent Cresencio Davila, took this message to state legislators in Austin last week at the Chancellor’s Student Advisory Board meeting.
Rodriguez, Delgado and Davila were among 23 students representing the 12 Texas A&M University branch members. The students’ mission was to speak on behalf of their respective student bodies on the need for a tax-free period to purchase textbooks.
Sen. Judith Zaffirini, chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee, presented three different bills in the 82nd session of the Texas Legislature on the purchasing of textbooks for college students. In those bills, Sen. Zaffirini proposed exempting books purchased by university and college students from having a sales tax for a limited period. Sen. Zaffirini requested for a period of time running from one to two days all the way up to a 30-day exemption window.
“Realistically, the third bill that has tax-free days for textbooks for one to two days is the one we were pushing,” Davila said. “Textbooks are important to us.”
At the Chancellor’s Student Advisory Board, Sen. Zaffirini and other legislators advised A&M-University students how to approach legislators and increase the likelihood of having their voices heard. Students representing A&M-San Antonio were given 30 minutes to one hour with legislators to convey their message.
“Our goal was to get a bill passed to lower the price of textbooks,” Rodriguez said. “We were also trying to get a tax-free holiday for textbooks.”
Sen. Zaffirini has presented similar bills in past sessions without much success. Between 2005 and 2009, bills presented by the senator pertaining to tax-free holidays for college students purchasing textbooks died before they could pass.
The Regular Session in the 82nd Texas Legislature will adjourn on March 3. “Following up with them through the session is important,” Davila said.
Student government members are weighing whether to attend Orange & Maroon Legislative Day (OMLD) on Feb. 15 in Austin. The goal for that meeting, said SGA representatives, is for Texas’ two largest university systems, The University of Texas and Texas A&M University, to come together and speak to state legislators about increasing public and legislative support for the states’ higher education system. Alumni from both university systems are invited to meet members of the state senate and house of representatives, hoping to gain support for their universities and secure funding.
Yesenia Camacho contributed to this report.