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Funding our future

Every legislative session, hundreds of individuals, non-profit groups, special-interest lobbyists, city and county officials and public and private education representatives, among others, visit legislators and their staff at the Texas Capitol to advocate for or against proposed legislation and to ask for funding.

It is hard to imagine how legislators keep up with it all; it’s even harder for them to advocate for funds for their many constituent interests, especially when each of the 181 representatives and senators are vying for the same dollars.

That is why the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley is so grateful to the members of our Rio Grande Valley legislative delegation for their attention, relentless dedication, effectiveness and willingness to work together to promote higher education in the entire Rio Grande Valley.

As has been reported, over the next two years UTRGV will receive $253.5 million in state funding, placing it in the enviable position of being secondhighest among UT general academic institutions in general revenue appropriated funds. This is in addition to the $500 million that has, to date, been received from the University of Texas System in Permanent University Funds.

These funds are significant and much needed in order to create a university that will span from Rio Grande City to South Padre Island, that will host some of the best and brightest faculty and staff in the country and that will include a medical school designed to help us grow our own doctors, increase access to medical care and conduct research on illnesses that plague the Rio Grande Valley, the state and our nation, such as diabetes.

Thanks to the tireless efforts of all our Valley legislators and notably to Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, who served as vice-chair of the Senate Finance Committee, UTRGV will, among other things, be able to:

Build two state-of the art facilities: a multi-purpose academic building in Brownsville and an interdisciplinary engineering and academic studies center in Edinburg.

Expand the Math and Science Academy that allows gifted high school students who demonstrate high aptitude in the areas of math and science to take classes from college faculty alongside college students and earn up to 60 college credit hours.

Expand residency opportunities to assure local graduate medical education training for medical students.

Continue to offer in-state tuition to the dedicated Dream Act students who seek an opportunity to contribute to their communities.

The opportunities that await our incoming students and our region are endless, and with the continued efforts and partnerships of the public and private sectors throughout the Rio Grande Valley, we can and will transform our region. Our RGV legislative delegation has already given us a head start and for that we express our sincere gratitude to: Sen.

Juan Hinojosa, Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., Sen. Judith Zaffirini, Rep. Rene Oliveira, Rep. Ryan Guillen, Rep.

Armando Martinez, Rep. Eddie Lucio III, Rep. Sergio Muñoz Jr., Rep.

Bobby Guerra, Rep. Terry Canales and Rep. Oscar Longoria.

The rest is up to us.

Veronica Gonzales is vice president for governmental and community relations at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

UTRGV

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