Dewhurst Re-appoints Zaffirini Higher Ed Chair, Finance Vice Chair
AUSTIN -- Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst on Friday (Jan. 12) re-appointed Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, Chair of the Senate Higher Education Subcommittee, Vice Chair of the Senate Finance Committee and a member of the Senate's Education and Health and Human Services Committees. He also newly appointed her to the Senate Committee on Administration.
The Vice Chair of Finance is a powerful and coveted position because that senator traditionally serves on both the Appropriations Conference Committee that writes the state's final budget and on the Legislative Budget Board that, with the governor, has budget execution authority when the legislature is not in session.
Last May she sponsored and passed a bill that authorized $1.9 billion in tuition revenue bonds for 63 capital funding projects at 48 colleges and universities.
"I truly am delighted that Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst again named me to key leadership positions from which I can continue to make a difference for Texas families," said Senator Zaffirini, the second-highest ranking senator and the highest-ranking senator for Bexar County and the border region.
She has served on the finance committee eight terms since 1991 and consecutive terms on the education committee since 1989. As Vice Chair of Finance during the 79th Legislative Session (2005), Senator Zaffirini was instrumental in drafting a balanced budget while championing education, public safety and health and human services. Last session's budget allocated $139 billion to fund state programs.
As the former Chair of the Senate Health and Humans Services Committee, Senator Zaffirini will continue to serve on the committee of which she has been a member since 1987. She is known for her expertise in writing Article II, health and human services, of the state's budget. When the 2003 legislature faced a $10 billion shortfall, she was credited with saving many essential services and programs that otherwise may have been eliminated or severely slashed.
Senator Zaffirini's newest appointment, the Senate Committee on Administration, approves Senate committee budgets, major travel and purchases, and approves and processes legislation for the Local and Uncontested Calendar -- approximately 75 percent of the bills passed by the Senate each session.
"These committee assignments reflect the areas that are most important for the families of Senate District 21 and will facilitate my addressing issues that are our highest legislative priorities," Senator Zaffirini said. "I look forward to exchanging ideas and conducting dialogues with freshman and veteran members as we continue to champion those issues that will benefit all persons in Texas. I am confident that the 80th legislative session will be one of the most productive for Texas."
Second in seniority in the 31-member Texas Senate, Senator Judith Zaffirini has served in the Texas Senate 20 years. She is the namesake of United ISD's Senator Judith Zaffirini Elementary School, Laredo Community College's Senator Judith Zaffirini Library, Lake Casa Blanca International State Park's Senator Judith Zaffirini Road and the Judith Zaffirini Program in Edinburg that focuses on fighting drug addictions of men, women and children. SD 21 includes Atascosa, Bee, northeast Bexar, Dimmit, Duval, Frio, Jim Hogg, Karnes, LaSalle, Live Oak, McMullen, San Patricio, Starr, Webb, Wilson, Zapata and Zavala counties.