FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 06/10/2013
Rep. Donna Howard Calls for Higher Education Investment in Special Session
Austin Lawmaker Signs onto Letter in Support of Tuition Revenue Bonds for Campus Construction
AUSTIN - Approaching the halfway point of the special session, Rep. Howard has signed a letter to Governor Perry, urging him to take up much needed, bi-partisan legislation that would update our public institutions of higher education. She released the following statement:
“Today I was proud to join with 68 of my House Colleagues and request that Governor Perry add much-needed authority for campus construction bonds to the Special Session agenda.
"As higher education enrollment has increased across the state, we have failed to keep up with the necessary campus infrastructure that is essential to maintaining our academic competitiveness. If continued, this negligence may lead to a lack of capacity, a drop in school ratings, or prevent our universities from meeting the educational demands of our ever-evolving workforce.
"Now is the time to make these investments, to take advantage of the historically low interest rates on bonds. Moreover, studies have shown that approval and completion of the projects will have a significant economic benefit, providing increased business activity and additional jobs both in our local communities and throughout the state.
"As the Special Session enters its third week, there is broad agreement in the House and Senate to add this item to the call. I stand ready to work with my fellow legislators to give it swift approval, so that our campuses can finally proceed with these critical enhancements."
In the Regular Session of the 83rd Legislature, SB 16 by Sen. Judith Zaffirini would have helped finance the construction of approximately 60 university projects through the use of Tuition Revenue Bonds. Despite passing both the House and the Senate, the bill fell victim to the final deadline for consideration of bills.
On May 27th, Governor Perry called the Legislature back into a Special Session, which can last up to 30 days. As of yet, the only item on the Governor's call is redistricting. However, a variety of bills have already been filed relating to capital projects at institutions of higher education, including HB 10 by Rep. Dan Branch and SB 11 by Sen. Kel Seliger; also filed is Rep. Howard's own HB 42, which would authorize the issuance of bonds for the construction of the Engineering Education and Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin.
CONTACT: Scott M. Daigle