FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 7, 2007
AUSTIN -- "I was pleased today to welcome members from the Texas Exes and A&M's Association of Former Students and present them with Senate Resolution 140 commemorating Orange-Maroon Day 2007. As a Texas Ex, I look forward to this event during which the Aggies and Longhorns set aside their legendary rivalry and unite to promote higher education. I also am always pleased to recognize the UT and A&M alumni among our Senate ranks, including 12 Texas Exes who have earned 16 degrees ranging from bachelor's to PhD and five Aggies who have earned five degrees ranging from bachelor's to master's.
"I appreciate the efforts of both alumni organizations in highlighting vital higher education issues and their respective institutions. Higher education is my passion and highest legislative priority. I am grateful that Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst named me chair of the Senate Higher Education Subcommittee, and I look forward to introducing effective solutions that enhance and support higher education.
"The costs associated with higher education are rising steadily and are become increasingly burdensome for students. This greatly affects diversity and access to higher education, and I will continue to work to ease the financial burden of higher education so more students can work toward timely graduation with fewer hindrances.
"What's more, my SB 49, which provides financial relief to college students by allowing them to purchase textbooks tax-free during the beginning of the fall and spring semesters, greatly will improve college affordability. According to a report issued last year by the Texas Comptroller, tax-free textbooks would save Texas students $40 million each year and return to the Texas economy more than $206 million. I look forward to working with my colleagues so we may provide our hardworking college students some much-needed relief from escalating college costs.
"Last May I sponsored and passed legislation that authorized $1.9 billion in tuition revenue bonds for 63 capital funding projects at 48 colleges and universities including essential projects at multiple institutions within the UT and A&M systems. I am delighted that this year's base budget bill, SB 1, included $320.4 million for debt service for these bonds. This is the greatest single investment ever made for higher education in Texas and will help both A&M and UT systems provide educational excellence for their students.
"I also am pleased that Governor Rick Perry is proposing significant funding increases to my B-on-Time zero-interest higher education loan program and programs that will increase graduation rates across the board and will help students be graduated timely and successfully."