from the office of State Senator Judith Zaffirini

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Nick Almanza
(512) 463-0121
February 1, 2007

Senate Transportation Committee Unanimously Approves SB 61 by Zaffirini to Improve Emergency Preparedness

AUSTIN -- "I applaud Governor Rick Perry and his efforts to produce a positive higher education agenda for the 80th legislative session. The governor's proposals regarding increases in need- and performance-based financial aid, increases for my B-on-Time zero-interest higher education loan program and efforts to improve graduation rates certainly are steps in the right direction.

"I am concerned, however, with the funding reallocations that would accompany the governor's proposals, especially the across-the-board cuts to University Special Items. The governor's proposal details more than $614 million in reductions to special items, which includes institutional enhancements such as the South Texas Border Initiative. The South Texas Border Initiative was adopted in 1989 by the Texas Legislature to provide additional funding for border universities to help them achieve parity with other Texas institutions. Several institutions in my district and in surrounding areas within South Texas, including Texas A&M International University, the University of Texas-Pan American and Texas A&M Corpus Christi, would be impacted adversely by this proposal. It is still too early to estimate exactly how this reduction in special items will affect individual institutions, but I plan to examine closely the Governor's proposal to ensure the Senate Higher Education Subcommittee is best informed and prepared to make the appropriate recommendations.

"I look forward to working with Governor Perry, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst and my colleagues in the House and Senate so we may provide Texas with a higher education agenda that promotes both access and excellence."

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