Cornyn Kicking off Campaign with Perry in Austin this Morning;
UT Regents Allocate $196 Million to New UT Valley Campus;
LNG Pipeline Explosion in E. TX;
Abbott Wins Law Enforcement Endorsements;
Abbott Proposes ‘Far Reaching’ Ethics Reform;
Slater Coins Dem ‘Dream Team II’;
Dewhurst Says He Has a ‘Real Good Shot’ to Avoid Runoff
Good morning from Austin.
Here’s the brief:
CORNYN KICKS OFF RE-ELECT WITH GOV. PERRY THIS MORNING IN AUSTIN
U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) will kick off his re-election campaign this morning at Scholz’s Garden in Austin.
The event is now until 11am.
Special guest: Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX).
$196M FOR NEW UT VALLEY CAMPUS
SAEN’s Jennifer Lloyd reports:
The University of Texas System board of regents allocated a whopping $265.6 million from a public endowment Thursday — $196 million of which will help build a new university in the Rio Grande Valley.
Regents Vice Chairman Gene Powell, a Weslaco native who now lives in San Antonio, choked up while making the motion to allocate the funds. The vote was unanimous.
“This gets really, really emotional for me because I have seen the progress,” Powell said afterward. “I grew up with kids who didn’t have anything.”
He said his mother earned a two-year degree from Edinburg Junior College because it was the only available option in the area. The college later evolved into the University of Texas-Pan American.
“Today, we’re going to be able to offer one of the best universities in the world and a medical school,” Powell said.
The new university may enroll its first class in fall 2015. It will encompass UT-Pan American in Edinburg, UT-Brownsville and the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio’s Regional Academic Health Center in the Valley, the latter on its way to becoming its own medical school.
Of the allocation, $142 million will fund a new science building at UTPA, a new academic building at UTB, and help purchase facilities stemming from the separation of UTB from Texas Southmost College, board documents show.
Another $54 million will flow through UTHSCSA to fund a medical academic building at UTPA.
UTHSC President William Henrich said the medical school building should be done by 2016. He said the South Texas counties have a low number of physicians per 100,000 residents. Because doctors tend to practice close to where they trained, he said: “The hope is these new physicians minted down in the Valley, will want to stay in the Valley.”
The allocations will come from a public endowment called the Permanent University Fund, or PUF.
Neither UTPA nor UTB had access to PUF money. But when lawmakers approved the new umbrella university last spring, they made it eligible for PUF allocations.
“It’s about time, don’t you think?” UTB President Juliet Garcia said, of the first allocation made to construct a building at what’s currently the UTB campus in the PUF’s 130-plus-year history.
Jose Martinez, who’s earning his master’s in physics from UTB said: “I can’t wait for what the future holds for South Texas.”
Board documents further detailed the South Texas allocations:
– $70 million to pay for a portion of construction costs for a 120,000-square-foot building at UTPA, with classroom and lab space for disciplines such as biology, physics, chemistry, math, pre-med and environmental studies.
– $54 million for the 140,000-square-foot academic building to alleviate the need for leased classroom space at UTB.
– $18 million to help pay UT System costs for facility acquisitions from the UTB-TSC separation.– $54 million for the 88,000-square-foot medical school facility at UTPA, including an auditorium, digital library, clinical skills center, and dean and faculty offices.
Earlier in the day, regents heard the PUF’s value sat at nearly $14.9 billion as of Aug. 31 — an increase of almost $1.4 billion since the start of the year. Both the UT and Texas A&M University systems benefit from PUF revenues from oil, gas and land leases.
Rep. Rene Oliveira, D-Brownsville, and Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, both issued statements praising the regents’ decision.
“Getting into the PUF has allowed our students to be the direct beneficiaries of the revenues coming from the Texas oil and gas boom,” Oliveira said. “This demonstrates what can happen when we work together with a united vision.”
Thursday’s PUF allocations will also benefit projects at UT Southwestern Medical Center, UT Austin’s Texas Advanced Computing Center, and data centers at UT Arlington and the UT MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Regents also approved $3.2 million for a transition budget to help develop the new South Texas university. Pedro Reyes, UT’s executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, said the money will help pay for hiring, professional services, and the searches underway for the new university’s president and medical school dean.
Though regents will have the final say over the name of the university, UT has launched a campaign for public input on the moniker that will continue through Dec. 6. Information on the naming campaign can be found at at utsystem.edu. Click on the link that says, “Community input needed on name for new UT in South Texas.”
Your absolute must click stories:
> An LNG pipeline in East Texas exploded Thursday.
> Attorney General Greg Abbott (R-TX) won several law enforcement organization endorsements in his run for Governor.
> AG Abbott unveiled ‘far reaching’ ethics reform proposals.
> DMN’s Wayne Slater coins Texas Democratic ‘Dream Team II’ in his weekly column.
> Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst says he has a “real good shot” at avoiding a runoff.
– TT reports on CPRIT’s future.
– Former RPT communications director Bryan Preston writes for CNN about the overblown fears about the state’s Voter ID law, as evidenced in the recent statewide election.
2013 / 2014 / 2016:
– U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) defended his actions that resulted in a government shutdown at a forum hosted by The Atlantic in Washington, DC Thursday.
– CNN reports on Sen. Cruz’s address to the Federalist Society convention in DC.
– TT’s Aman Batheja reports on speeches three of the four GOP candidates for Texas Comptroller gave at a policy conference in Austin Monday.
– Recently defeated Republican Houston City Councilman Al Hoang will challenge (behind paywall) State Rep. Hubert Vo (D-Houston).
– A world record catfish.
– Derek Jeter — Book Publisher.
– Michael Jordan’s reveals his most memorable dunk.
– Former UT women’s track coach Bev Kearney sues UT for $1 million.
– ESPN: Mack Brown saved season one game at a time.
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