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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The Texas Senate has endorsed freezing tuition rates at public universities for two years and making schools meet performance benchmarks before raising them again.

Lawmakers have been targeting ways to reduce tuition costs that have skyrocketed since Texas deregulated rates in 2003. Tuition has risen nearly 150 percent while classroom spending has increased just 65 percent.

The Senate bill would also cap tuition increases at the rate of inflation plus 1 percent. It now goes to the Texas House.

The Senate also gave preliminary approval to eliminating a requirement that universities set aside 15 percent of tuition to be used for financial aid. The change wouldn’t reduce tuition but would give schools control over how they spend that money.

Senate Democrats objected, saying it would take money from poor students.

(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)