Texas State officials will be submitting requests to the 2013 legislative session members for potential funding toward the construction of four buildings and two projects.
Robert Gratz, special assistant to the university president, said the university will submit electronic funding requests to the Legislative Budget Board associated with Gov. Rick Perry’s office. First, approval must be received from the Texas State University System Board of Regents. He said the exceptional item proposals are due to the regents in August and will be updated around October for final consideration during the legislative session.
Each of the 35 public universities in Texas will submit funding requests for legislature bill approval. A designated pool of money will be divided among the institutions for buildings and projects, depending on available legislature funds.
Bill Nance, vice president for finance and support services, said the highest priority request the university is submitting will be used toward funding a new engineering and science building.
“We are out of space for research labs, as well as the degree programs for engineering in the Joann Cole Mitte building,” Nance said. “We need a new building if we are really going to accommodate the growth that we see in both research and the academic programs.”
Gratz said funding requests for new buildings must undergo a two-part process. He said a university has to receive authority to issue the tuition revenue bonds and then the designated legislative appropriations will help cover debt services on the bonds.
Nance said other funding requests will be submitted for the construction of new Round Rock campus buildings, including two facilities called health professions one and two. He said the university is asking the legislature for money to build a new music building at the San Marcos campus location as well.
Gratz said the university is interested in moving all health professions classes to Round Rock in the future.
There will be two additional project funding requests submitted to the legislature with approval from the regents.
Gratz said one request is for money to be put toward research entitled “Geographic Patterns of Texas Illegal Border Crossings,” proposed by Kim Rossmo, criminal justice professor. The project is aimed to help prevent illegal border crossings through a geographic system Rossmo devised for police officials.
Gratz said another request is to fund a river monitoring system in the Comal springs, similar to the one found in San Marcos with the coordination of the River Systems Institute. A third proposed request for a vivarium research facility to house mice and rats for study purposes is still under review with the strategic planning process.
Andrew Sansom, executive director of the River Systems Institute, said the legislature approved funding for the San Marcos River Observing System monitoring project in 2009. Sansom said the Edwards Aquifer Recovery Implementation Program was recently completed and will hopefully be aided by additional appropriations from the legislature.
“The endangered species in the Comal and San Marcos springs are basically driving the environmental management of the Edwards Aquifer,” Sansom said.
Nance said the four buildings included in the tuition revenue bond requests this year are the same facilities which have been suggested to the legislature in the 2009 and 2011 sessions. He said each of the buildings and the illegal border-crossing project, which was requested in 2011, did not receive designated legislature funding in the past.
Nance said there was no extra money to fund exceptional appropriation items in the last legislative session due to the multi-million dollar budget cuts state-wide. Texas State had a budget cut of about $17 million as a result of the legislative decisions last year. The state could cut basic funding across the state and then put money toward crisis projects that need to be addressed.
“You’ve got to put forward your needs and your requests,” Nance said. “If somebody believes there’s not much hope in them, part of it is making the legislature aware of your needs. It is important to bring awareness in the case of those buildings and to the capabilities that you have with research efforts on your campus.”