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April 8, 1998     (512) 463-0300

LEGISLATORS DISCUSS QUALITY EDUCATION FOR ALL TEXANS

AUSTIN - Members of the Senate Interim Committee on Funding Issues in Education met at the state capitol on Wednesday, April 8, in order to hear testimony regarding several of the committee charges. To allow all Texans access to an affordable quality education, the committee is responsible for developing performance and budget recommendations while examining funding issues in higher education and public schools.

The committee is co-chaired by Senators Teel Bivins of Amarillo and Bill Ratliff of Mount Pleasant. Members include Senators Robert Duncan of Lubbock, Gregory Luna of San Antonio, David Sibley of Waco, Royce West of Dallas, and Judith Zaffirini of Laredo.

The first charge the committee looked into was the management, investment and distribution of funds set aside for education purposes including the Permanent School Fund and the Permanent University Fund. Providing testimony on various issues relating to these funds included representatives from the University of Texas System, the UT Investment Management Company, the Texas A&M University System, the Higher Education Coordinating Board, the Legislative Budget Board, and the Texas Education Agency.

The next order of business was the discussion of the allocation of funds for special items, medical schools and Texas A&M Service Agencies. Highlighted testimony came from the senior budget analyst from the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Bill Ratliff of Mount Pleasant, and the Vice Chancellor for State and Public Affairs at Texas A&M University.

Members also discussed the status of student financial aid and various tuition exemption/waiver programs. Representatives from the Higher Education Coordinating Board gave testimony recommending changes to improve these programs. The committee also reviewed the cost of textbooks and use of computers as alternatives to textbooks in public schools.

The committee will gather its findings and make any necessary recommendations to the 76th Legislature which will convene in January of next year.

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