Proposition 5 would rebrand the National Research University Fund as the Texas University Fund and create a dedicated revenue stream to fund it from earnings from the Rainy Day Fund. According to the House Research Organization, Proposition 5 “would help the state educationally and economically by authorizing the necessary funding to provide for more high quality research in Texas universities.”
In 2009, the Texas Legislature established the National Research University Fund (NRUF) in order to “provide a dedicated, independent, and equitable source of funding to enable emerging research universities in [Texas] to achieve national prominence as major research universities.” In subsequent legislative sessions, the legislature established eligibility criteria and a timeframe during which those criteria must be met in order to receive NRUF distributions. Eligibility requirements include, for example, expenditures of at least $45 million in restricted research and a number of additional qualifications relating to endowments, PhDs awarded annually, high-quality faculty, and commitment to high-quality graduate education, among other things. A May 2023 report shows eight institutions classified as emerging research universities eligible for NRUF funding. These include Texas State University (Texas State), Texas Tech University (Texas Tech), The University of Texas at Arlington (UT-Arlington), The University of Texas at Dallas (UT-Dallas), The University of Texas at El Paso (UT-El Paso), The University of Texas at San Antonio (UT-San Antonio), University of Houston (UH), and University of North Texas (UNT).
Proposition 5 would rebrand the NRUF as the Texas University Fund (TUF) and create a dedicated account for revenue for the TUF. The proposition creates an ongoing source of revenue for the TUF in the form of interest income, dividends, and investment income from the Economic Stabilization Fund (the “Rainy Day Fund”), though it caps annual contributions at $100 million (adjusted for inflation annually). The University of Texas and Texas A&M systems receive funding from the Available University Fund and will not be eligible to receive TUF funding.
Proposition 5 would help maintain Texas’ leadership in higher education by funding the pursuit of high-quality research and the attraction of top minds in those fields of research.