Gov. Perry Signs Legislation to Promote Tier One Universities in the State
HB 51 also approves TRBs to help UTMB, TAMU Galveston with Ike recovery
Gov. Rick Perry today signed House Bill (HB) 51, which helps establish new and maintain existing Tier One universities in the state. The bill also allows the University of Texas and Texas A&M University systems to issue tuition revenue bonds (TRBs) to help the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) and Texas A&M University at Galveston (TAMUG) recover from Hurricane Ike.
"We need to continue our state's march toward an academic dominance that not only matches our economic lead, but also helps us sustain our economic power by preparing our future workforce and making discoveries that can fuel future industries, jobs and life-saving products," Gov. Perry said. "HB 51 accelerates our movement in that direction by drawing a clear roadmap to help emerging research institutions reach the next level, and represents a remarkable collaborative effort between a hard-working group of legislators and academic leaders from a number of universities."
HB 51 is a multi-faceted higher education bill that establishes measures to enhance and maintain the quality of the state's designated and emerging public research universities; creates incentive programs and funding for higher education institutions; provides higher education fund allocations; and creates an interim committee to study the feasibility of tracking specialized technology research projects.
"This bill is a game changer for Texas. The signing of HB 51 into law today leads to a $700 million catalyst for research and innovation at Texas universities," Rep. Dan Branch said.
Of the 62 national research institutions in the nation, three universities - the University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University and Rice University - are currently located in Texas. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has designated seven institutions as emerging research universities: the University of Texas campuses in Arlington, Dallas, El Paso and San Antonio; Texas Tech University; the University of Houston and the University of North Texas.
"My hope is that signing HB 51 into law will transform higher education by establishing excellence as our standard and way of life. With this legislation, Texas is sending a message that this is the place to be for students, researchers and scholars in any arena," Sen. Judith Zaffirini said. "This transformational legislation will change our outlook and our future by placing Texas in a new partnership with higher education and enhancing our stature in the nation and world."
The bill also authorizes the issuance of $150 million in TRBs for UTMB and $5 million in TRBs for TAMUG. UTMB will use the funds to build a new 200 bed hospital tower adjacent to the existing John Sealy Hospital, restoring bed capacity to 550, as it was prior to Hurricane Ike.
"Texas has seven emerging research institutions that deserve the opportunity to become Tier One institutions," Sen. Florence Shapiro said. "The 26 other universities in the state should also be given opportunities to excel as institutions of excellence. This bill does both."
Additionally, HB 51 provides a performance incentive funding mechanism for all of the state's general academic institutions based on the average number of degrees awarded annually, and an increase in the average number of degrees awarded annually, with weighted consideration for at-risk students and critical fields.
HB 51 takes effect immediately. For more information about the 81st Legislative Session, please visit www.governor.state.tx.us. To view details on this bill, visit http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=81R&Bill=HB51.