PRESS RELEASE
From the Office of State Senator Troy Fraser

For Immediate Release
April 23, 1999
Contact: William A. Scott - (512) 463-0124

FRASER NAMED TO BUDGET CONFERENCE COMMITTEE
Senate Version Approves $98.3 Billion Budget for Fiscal 2000-2001

AUSTIN -- Senator Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, today was appointed to the 10-member Senate-House conference committee that will consider the state's budget for the next two years.

Fraser joins Senate Finance Chairman Bill Ratliff, R-Mount Pleasant and Senators Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock, Carlos Truan, D-Corpus Christi, and Mike Moncrief, D-Fort Worth as the Senate's conferees.

"The Senate has passed a responsible budget and I look forward to working with other members of the conference committee to reconcile the differences between the Senate and House versions," Fraser said.

The Senate gave its approval today to a $98.3 billion budget for fiscal 2000 2001, including $1.2 million for Tarleton State University's Central Texas campus in Killeen and $10 million for a new health care network to benefit rural Texas.

Fraser said Tarleton State's Bell County university center would receive $600,000 annually over the next two-year budget cycle under the bill.

"We worked hard last session and during the interim to create an upper-level public university in Central Texas," Fraser said "Now we're close to making sure it is properly funded for the first two years as part of Tarleton State's appropriation.."

In addition to funding for Tarleton State's Central Texas campus, eighteen of the 21 counties in Senate District 24 would benefit from a new $10 million rural health system advocated and supported by Fraser as a member of the Senate Finance Committee.

The funding was appropriated to establish the private, non-profit Rural Community Health System, that will be owned and operated by rural physicians, hospitals and community leaders in 196 rural counties statewide.

Eighteen counties in Senate District 24 -- Brown, Burnet, Callahan, Coke, Coleman, Concho, Lampasas, Llano, McCulloch, Menard, Mills, Mitchell, Nolan, Runnels, San Saba, Shackelford, Stephens and Young --- would be eligible to participate in the program.

"This new program will enable rural Texas communities to centralize management and reduce administrative costs to rural health care networks," Fraser said. "But it will also preserve rural Texans' local access to the full spectrum of care they need."

Other items in the Senate's budget that will benefit Senate District 24, Fraser said, include $4 million for a High Priority Development Fund. The fund, which would be administered by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, will allow public community colleges and technical institutes access to funding to meet the workforce training demands of business and industry.

Fraser said creating the new fund would be particularly helpful in training workers for higher paying, high-technology jobs as the demand grows.

"As the high-tech sector of the Texas economy continues to expand, companies are looking for educated, trained workers for good-paying jobs," Fraser said. "This program will help train workers to meet the need of employers. It's a win-win situation, especially as the high-tech corridor expands outward from Austin."

Fraser also noted that the Senate approved $25 million in next year's Texas Education Agency budget to fund the Governor's Reading Initiative to help diagnose students in kindergarten, first and second grades for reading deficiencies.

"Everyone, including the Governor and Lieutenant Governor recognize how important reading is to a sound education, and this is an important first step in ensuring that young Texans can read at grade level," Fraser said.

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