Statement about 79th session of Texas Legislature

The 79th Session of the Texas Legislature adjourned May 30, 2005. The following is a brief synopsis of the impact, budgetary and otherwise, of the various pieces of legislation on the Texas Tech University System.

Operational Funding

Texas Tech University (TTU) and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) made great strides this session in the area of funding for academic support. This was primarily the result of enrollment growth within both institutions that was recognized by the Legislature through increased formula funding.

TTU will be receiving approximately $20 million in increased operational support during the upcoming two-year budget period. More than 65% of this increase is attributable to additional funding for the academic programs. This increase also includes $5 million to facilitate the hiring of new faculty and slight increases for the Hill Country Educational Network and the Small Business Development Center. Full funding for the existing debt service on previously authorized tuition revenue bonds for the university is included in these funds. In addition, TTU will receive $2.99 million per year in research development funds. The Legislature initially proposed a 5% reduction to other non-formula funding items for all general academic institutions, but at the end those were only reduced one-half of one percent.

TTUHSC also will receive a $13 million increase in operational funds for the next two- year budget period. More than 76% of this increase is related to additional funding for the academic programs including the growth in enrollments in the Schools of Medicine, Nursing and Allied Health. Additionally, TTUHSC will receive $12 million for debt service on previously authorized tuition revenue bonds for existing El Paso and Lubbock construction projects. In addition, TTUHSC will receive an additional $2.3 million for graduate medical education (GME) funding. This new funding for GME helps replace funds that were drastically reduced in 2004 and 2005. The Legislature initially proposed a 5% reduction to other non-formula funding items for all health-related institutions, but those proposed reductions were fully restored.

Capital Project Funding - Tuition Revenue Bonds and Higher Education Assistance Fund

The Legislature was unable to reach an agreement on a bill authorizing new tuition revenue bonds (TRBs) for all institutions. Thus, no new TRBs have been made available for the upcoming two-year budget period.

Although the Legislature did not provide any new HEAF dollars for the next two-year budget period, an $87.5 million increase (50% above current funding levels) is authorized to begin in FY 2008. Texas Tech University and the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center will continue to receive funding based upon the updated distribution of the HEAF formula for 2006 and 2007. This will result in an approximate $3 million reduction for Texas Tech University and an increase of approximately $4 million for the Health Sciences Center.

El Paso Four-Year Medical School

The request for operating funds for the expansion of the medical school in El Paso was not agreed to by the Texas Senate and House Appropriations Conference Committee. However, as noted, the Legislature provided funding for the debt service for the medical education building and basic science building that had been previously authorized.

Student Regent

Legislation passed both houses and was sent to the Governor allowing the Governor to appoint a non-voting student regent to the governing board of each public university system. The student government association will recommend 5 applicants for student regent to the Chancellor. The Chancellor will select two candidates to forward to the Governor. The student regent will rotate between TTU and TTUHSC. The student regent will serve a one-year term.