from the office of State Senator Judith Zaffirini

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Larkin Tackett
(512) 463-0121
May 15, 2006

SENATOR ZAFFIRINI PASSES TRB BILL TO AUTHORIZE $1.9 BILLION OF CAPITAL FUNDING FOR HIGHER EDUCATION

(AUSTIN) -- The Texas Senate on Sunday (May 14), unanimously passed House Bill 153, sponsored by Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, which authorizes Texas universities to issue $1.9 billion in tuition revenue bonds (TRBs) for capital improvements. Carried in the House of Representative by Geanie Morrison, R-Victoria, the bill provides 63 TRBs for 48 colleges and universities throughout Texas.

"This significant investment of capital funding is not only equitable for our universities, but also will improve their accountability and accessibility," Senator Zaffirini said. "Because higher education is my passion, it truly was a pleasure to work with Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst, my Senate colleagues and Rep. Morrison to ensure that higher education facilities in Texas are second to none."

Added to the call of the special session by Governor Rick Perry on Thursday (May 11), the tuition revenue bond bill was passed by the Senate on Sunday (May 14) and by the House on Monday (May 15).

"The Senate passed historic and unprecedented legislation that is the largest single investment ever in higher education," said Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst. "Due in great part to the efforts of Senator Zaffirini, this bill will make colleges and universities more accessible and affordable to all willing Texans." The senator, however, credited him for his leadership role in the bill's development and passage, especially during last-minute efforts to kill it.

Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board representatives have worked since 2004 with university systems regarding their requests for funding. Gov. Dewhurst and Senator Zaffirini negotiated the bill in a single weekend with Speaker Tom Craddick and Representative Morrison. HB 153 was reported to the Senate unanimously in a matter of hours by members of the Senate Subcommittee on Capital Funding for Higher Education, chaired by Senator Zaffirini, then by the Senate Finance Committee, of which she is vice chair.

HB 153 provides for the issuance of tuition revenue bonds for institutions in the systems of Texas A&M University, The University of Texas, University of Houston, Texas State University, University of North Texas and Texas Tech University. Independent universities receiving bond authority include Texas Woman's University, Midwestern State University, Stephen F. Austin State University, Texas Southern University and Texas State Technical College at Waco.

"The strong support for this legislation sends a clear message that the Senate is committed to providing the resources necessary for our institutions to meet their growing capital needs," said Senator Zaffirini.

The amended bill was approved by the House of Representatives Monday (May 15) and sent to Governor Rick Perry for consideration. The continued progress of this bill can be monitored via the internet at www.senate.state.tx.us or by contacting the Texas Legislative Reference Library's toll free instate hotline, 1-877-824-7038.

The House of Representatives initially passed a bill that included all TRB requests, strictly for the purpose of expediting the process during a tight time frame and sending it to the Senate for negotiations to begin.

Top