McALLEN — University of Texas System regents will consider a set of $800 million in bond projects at a meeting Wednesday, including a new science building at UT-Pan American and a new campus at UT-Brownsville.
The projects would be funded through tuition revenue bonds, a financing method backed by tuition and fees with legislative approval.
Hidalgo County representatives announced their support for the items this week ahead of the regents’ meeting. With approval from state lawmakers, the projects would be added to the System’s capital improvement program.
The $98 million science building would add 44 labs, 19 of them for teaching, and three new classrooms at UTPA that could seat up to 115 students.
Hidalgo County’s newest state representatives won’t feel out of place.
In a legislative session where 43 freshmen were sworn into the 150-member House — the most in four decades — Hidalgo County accounts for three of them. State Reps. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg; Oscar Longoria, D-Mission; and Bobby Guerra, D-McAllen, took office Tuesday in the county’s delegation that is relatively lean on experience, both a blessing and a curse.
“Since half the House will be freshmen and sophomores, it provides a good opportunity for us to move up quickly,” said Longoria, a Mission attorney elected to the Rio Grande Valley’s new seat that runs between Hidalgo and Cameron counties.
Texas legislators began their 140-day session Tuesday cast around a budget battle where the high number of newcomers will play a big role. While the state’s major responsibility will be passing a new budget after historic cuts the last go-around, Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst will push fiscally and socially conservative measures that include drug testing for welfare and unemployment recipients and a lean budget that steers clear of the state’s surplus.
EDINBURG — Standing with leaders from the University of Texas System and local universities Friday, area legislators said they would do whatever it took to win the two-thirds approval of state lawmakers for a new Rio Grande Valley university.
A plan approved by the UT board of regents this week would merge the University of Texas-Pan American, the University of Texas at Brownsville and regional academic health science centers into an institution that could equal the state’s emerging research universities.
“I will work tirelessly to make sure the legislature supports these efforts,” said state Rep. Terry Canales, who begins his first legislative session in January. “I know that I speak for the rest of the Valley delegation when I say you can have faith that we will pursue this vigorously and tirelessly.”