FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 22, 2013
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AUSTIN — Today Senate Bill 24, legislation to merge UT-Pan American and UT-Brownsville and create a free standing medical school, received the final stamp of approval from the Texas Legislature. Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa made a formal motion to concur with the changes made to SB 24 in the House of Representatives in support of a compromised plan.
SB 24 was amended last week to reflect the negotiated plan reached by the Valley delegation that specifies the medical school educational programs for first-year and second-year programs shall be primarily located in Hidalgo County and the educational programs for third-year and fourth-year students shall be primarily located in Cameron County.
Also, offices overseeing undergraduate medical education should be located in Hidalgo County, and offices overseeing the graduates' residency programs should be located in Cameron County. Finally, the language ensures that educational programs for all medical students will take full advantage of the existing educational facilities at UT-Pan American, UT-Brownsville and the Lower Rio Grande Valley Regional Academic Health Center.
Senator Hinojosa made the following statement regarding the passage of SB 24:
"Senate Bill 24 has been our priority all session long. I thank Chairman Kel Seliger for letting me manage this bill through the legislative process. I thank my colleagues Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr. and Senator Judith Zaffirini, who are my joint-authors, for their counsel and guidance. I express sincere thanks to Chairman Powell and Chancellor Cigarroa of the University of Texas System. I also express gratitude to Governor Rick Perry and Lt. Governor David Dewhurst for their support throughout the entire process.
I am proud of the tremendous bipartisan support we had in both the House and the Senate -- legislators have come together to invest in education and in the people of South Texas.
Although there were contentious issues, it was no different than other legislation that is complicated with various moving parts. Negotiating -- the "give and take" -- is part of the process when various stakeholders are involved.
In the end, we all came together on an agreement that takes a regional approach and maximizes the RAHC, UT-Brownsville in Cameron County, and UT-Pan American in Hidalgo County to the benefit of not only South Texas, but the whole state of Texas.
I thank the entire Valley delegation, especially the Hidalgo County legislators for advocating and supporting this legislation. Representatives Mando Martinez,Sergio Munoz, Terry Canales, Bobby Guerra, and Oscar Longoria proved themselves through their hard work, perseverance and leadership.
I also thank Chairman Rene Oliveira and Representative Eddie Lucio, III for their leadership and willingness to negotiate and compromise by doing what is best for all of South Texas.
The expansion of educational opportunities will create greater access to health care and the related health care businesses that the medical school will attract will be a great boost to our quality of life in the Valley. There will be more jobs, lower poverty levels, higher educational levels, more health care services, more doctors, more access to those doctors and more resources to serve the unique and critical needs of the people of the Valley.
I am proud that we stand united as a delegation embracing a regional mindset. The vision of a new university and a medical school has united our Valley community proving that we can transform a dream into a reality."
Senate Bill 24 will now be sent to Governor Rick Perry to sign the bill into law.