from the office of State Senator Judith Zaffirini

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Larkin Tackett
(512) 463-0121
March 23, 2006

SENATOR ZAFFIRINI, SUBCOMMITTEE BEGIN REVIEW OF CAPITAL FUNDING FOR HIGHER EDUCATION

(AUSTIN) -- The Subcommittee on Capital Funding for Higher Education on Thursday (March 23) heard testimony from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the Legislative Budget Board regarding the subcommittee's charge to study capital funding for institutions of higher education and to ensure that the authorization of bond funds meets the state's goals for higher education. Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, chair, said she and her colleagues are committed to improving the system of allocating capital funds to universities throughout Texas.

"It is critical that the appropriation of capital funds is not only equitable among campuses, but also that it improves excellence, accountability, accessibility and affordability at our universities," Senator Zaffirini said. "As demographic trends in Texas continue to drive increased demand for higher education opportunities, we must ensure that the state can support our growing institutions in way that is financially responsible to Texas taxpayers."

Robert Shepard, chair of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, testified about developing a process to prioritize capital funding requests. The subcommittee also heard testimony from representatives of the Legislative Budget Board about all sources of capital funding for Texas universities, including tuition revenue bonds, the Permanent University Fund (PUF) and the Higher Education Fund (HEF). All three sources of funds are used by university administrators for construction, renovation and technology projects. Some institutions have the flexibility to use some of these funds for items such as library enhancement and graduate student fellowships.

"My Senate colleagues and I are committed to supporting the growth of Texas universities by developing innovate ways to meet capital needs," said Senator Zaffirini, vice chair of the Senate Finance Committee. "Our first priority must be to provide our college faculty and staff with the facilitates and technology necessary to prepare students to compete in the global economy."

Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst appointed Zaffirini to chair the subcommittee last month. Subcommittee members are Zaffirini, chair; Senators Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock; Kyle Janek, R-Houston; Steve Ogden, R-College Station; and Royce West, D-Dallas. The subcommittee will submit a report to the legislature to review prior to the 2007 legislative session that convenes on January 9.

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