From the Office of State Senator Rodney Ellis

For Immediate Release
August 9, 1999
Contact: Jeremy Warren, (512) 463-0113

Senator Ellis Named to TEXAS Grant Oversight Committee
Lt. Gov. Perry selects three senators to monitor $100 million scholarship program

(Austin)// --Lieutenant Governor Rick Perry today selected Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) to serve on the Legislative Oversight Committee on the TEXAS and Teach for Texas Grant Programs. The Committee will be charged with reviewing the programs and monitoring their implementation.

"I am honored that Lieutenant Governor Perry has selected me to help oversee this program," said Senator Ellis, the Senate sponsor of legislation creating the $100 million TEXAS (Toward EXcellence, Access, & Success) Grant Program.

Beginning this fall, TEXAS Grants will provide tuition and fees to high school students who have completed college preparatory courses in high school and maintain a 2.0 GPA or better in their first year of college. It is similar to Georgia's groundbreaking HOPE Scholarship program that provides college scholarships to any high school graduate with a "B" average. The funding will create as many as 10,000 - 11,000 TEXAS grants for Texas students each year.

"The world economy demands a highly skilled workforce. Yet, despite a booming population, Texas' college enrollment currently grows only 1 percent annually. That rate lags far behind the national average," said Senator Ellis. "I believe the TEXAS Grant program holds the key to increasing those numbers and preparing our workforce."

Language in HB 713, by Senator Rodney Ellis and Representative Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo), establishes the oversight committee. The committee will be composed of three senators, chosen by the lieutenant governor, and three representatives, chosen by House Speaker Pete Laney (D-Hale Center). Senator Ellis joins Senators Jeff Wentworth (R-San Antonio) and Steve Ogden (R-Bryan) on the oversight committee.

Before the legislature meets again in January 2001, the committee must meet with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to consider the implementation of the TEXAS Grant program. The committee has the authority to request reports and data concerning the program and must file a report with the governor and legislature by the end of next year.

Rules for the program were adopted by the Board last month and go into effect with the fall semester.

Background on TEXAS Grants/HOPE Scholarships