Gov. Perry Ceremonially Signs Senate Bills 297 and 93
*Note - Gov. Perry frequently departs from prepared remarks.
Thank you, Dr. [Ricardo] Romo [UTSA President] for that kind introduction and for so graciously hosting us here today.
It is a pleasure to see your local legislators here today, Sen. Van de Putte, and Representatives Corte, Castro, Gutierrez, Menendez, and Farias.
You have all recovered nicely from that grueling legislative session, but I can say for certain that your hard work paid off.
It's especially nice to have Frank Corte here in person.
Last time I was in San Antonio, all we got was your recorded voice because you were on active duty. Welcome back.
I also want to recognize our military personnel here today.
We can never fully repay you for your sacrifice on behalf of our country, but the legislation we are discussing today is part of our effort to show our appreciation for all you've done to keep us free.
Here in Texas, we have the second most active-duty military families of any state, second only to Virginia.
As Texas-based service members deploy from places like Fort Hood, Lackland Air Force Base or Joint Reserve Base Forth Worth, to serve in theaters all over the world, we owe it to them to support their families, and honorably welcome them when they return.
Because education is an essential part of making it in the world, and because the presence of veterans strengthens Texas, I called on the legislature to extend in-state tuition rates to eligible veterans.
With the passage of Senate Bill 297, they did me one better by not only granting that request, but also extending that benefit to the spouses and children of our eligible veterans, and waiving tuition completely for the children of Texas residents that the military has deployed for combat operations.
Under this plan, veterans who would otherwise be considered out-of-state will be able to maximize their benefits and their families can save up to $8,100 a year, if they take 30 semester credit hours at a Texas public university.
That's a whole lot of money for a family that is trying to make the challenging transition from military to civilian life.
I would especially like to thank Senator Van de Putte and Representative Corte for their tireless efforts to get this legislation passed.
I would also like to thank our legislature for passing Senate Bill 93 which makes some essential improvements to the Hazelwood Act.
As you know, Hazelwood has been providing veterans with the means to continue their education and their forward momentum in life.
It has helped a lot of folks who entered the Armed Forces from Texas.
Military service not only places unique demands on the man or woman who wears the uniform, but also calls for sacrifices by their family as well.
Senate Bill 93 updates the Hazelwood Act to reflect that reality, by extending those educational benefits to the spouses of military members, who were killed or completely disabled as a result of their service.
In addition, it allows veterans to extend unused benefits to their eligible children, passing on a legacy of their service, and the opportunity to improve another life through education.
These changes are necessary and well-deserved, and constitute our state's effort to make good on our commitment to honor your service.
You have blessed our state and our nation. This is our best effort to continue blessing you.