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Tuition Revenue Bond Bill is Refiled in Special Session

Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

State Sen. KelSeliger has re-filed a bill in the special session allowing state universities to issue Tuition Revenue Bonds for capital projects.

However, lawmakers wouldn't be able to take up the issue unless Gov. Rick Perry adds it to the list of  topics for the special session.

The original bill failed to pass after the state House and Senate couldn’t agree on some amendments. It would’ve authorized almost $2.7 billion dollars in bonds for those projects. 

The re-filed bill proposes bonds for most of the same projects as the original bill, but the amount of some of the projects is different. For instance, the re-filed bill allows the University of Texas at Austin to borrow $15 million less with the bonds for an Engineering Education and Research Center.

UT Engineering Dean Greg Fenves says that means the department will have to depend more on university funds and private donors to build the center.

“We will find a way to make things work," Fenves said.

He says the new building is essential to the future of UT’s Engineering department.

“It will change the way we educate engineering students through much more project-based learning and the facility will be one of the most important student learning environments at UT."

The bill also allows Texas State University to issues bonds for a new medical education and research building in Round Rock and an engineering and science building in San Marcos.

Since 2007, the number of engineering majors has tripled and the university wants to add civil and environmental engineering degrees.

Gene Bourgeois, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, says it's imperative Texas State University receives that money to build those two buildings. 

"We will not be able to do that without this new facility," Bourgeois says.

He also says the university wants to expand its health education program in Round Rock. 

"We look to Round Rock to being an area where there is a growing nexus of health professions and educational and institutional entities," he said. "For us, it means being able to move several academic programs from San Marcus to be part of this emerging concentrations of health and educationally related activities."

The Tuition Revenue bonds are usually repaid with money expected from future tuition.

Senator Kel Seliger was not available for comment before KUT's deadline.

Right now, Governor Perry has only instructed lawmakers to work on the matter of redistricting during the special session that began yesterday. He could add other issues at any point in the 30-day session.

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