Statement from Senator Judith Zaffirini Regarding Ceremonial Signing of $1.9 Billion Tuition Revenue Bond Legislation
(LAREDO) –- I am pleased to join Governor Rick Perry on this momentous occasion, introducing to Texas institutions of higher education, families, students and educators the fruits of our tireless labors in the state legislature. Gov. Perry's ceremonial signing of House Bill 153 by Rep. Geanie Morrison, R-Victoria, and Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, provides $1.9 billion of capital funding for higher education throughout Texas. The largest single investment Texas has ever made for higher education, it is particularly significant for Laredo, San Antonio and Senate District 21.
Under the leadership of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, I proudly sponsored HB 153, which authorizes Texas universities to issue $1.9 billion in tuition revenue bonds (TRBs) for capital improvements. Our bill provides 63 TRBs for 48 Texas colleges and universities.
On March 15 I met with Gov. Perry and asked him to open the call of the special session to TRBs. He said that he would as soon as we passed a public school reform tax bill. True to his word, Gov. Perry opened the call on Thursday (May 11). The tuition revenue bond bill was passed by the Senate on Sunday (May 14), and the House concurred with our amendments on Monday (May 15), barely meeting the deadline of Tuesday's (May 16) final adjournment.
HB 153 truly is a significant investment of capital funding not only in higher education, but also in our state's future. The overwhelming support for this legislation sends a clear message that the legislature is committed to providing the resources necessary for our institutions to meet their growing capital needs. The funds will allow our colleges and universities to flourish, become stronger, and educate emerging generations of young scholars.
HB 153 includes considerable funding for capital projects in South Texas. The bill provides approximately $38 million for Texas A&M International University in Laredo, including $25 million for the Student Success Center, $7.6 million for the Loop Road and Chill Water Loop and $4.9 million for completing the Fine and Performing Arts Center.
The University of Texas Pan American received bond authority for $6 million to construct a satellite campus in Starr County. The University of Texas at San Antonio received $74 million for a new Engineering Building, Texas A&M University in San Antonio received $40 million and the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio received $60 million for the South Texas Research Facility.
In addition, HB 153 includes $8.5 million for the citrus center building at Texas A&M University in Kingsville. The University of Texas at Brownsville received $33.8 million for a Science and Technology Learning Center and Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi received $40 million for a nursing, health and kinesiology facility.
Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, is vice-chair of the Senate Finance Committee and a member of the Legislative Budget Board. In February, Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst appointed Zaffirini to chair the newly created Subcommittee on Capital Funding for Higher Education, which is charged with studying capital funding for institutions of higher education and ensuring that the authorization of bond funds meets the state's goals for higher education. A 16-year member of the Senate Education Committee and its former vice chair, she represents some of the poorest counties in Texas.