- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 5, 2014

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Several Texas universities are seeking money from the Legislature to build and update facilities on their campuses.

Among the colleges hoping to receive bond funding from state lawmakers are Texas State University, the University of Texas and Texas A&M; University. Those three schools are collectively seeking hundreds of millions of dollars for their construction projects, the Austin American-Statesman (https://bit.ly/10VHiyH) reported.

It’s unclear whether state legislators will be in the mood to distribute funds when the legislative session starts next year. During last year’s session, a package of about $2.7 billion in bonds failed because lawmakers couldn’t agree on how much should be allocated to various universities. Texas Gov. Rick Perry also declined to add bonds to the legislative agenda in the next three special sessions.

The schools are pursuing bonds known as tuition revenue bonds in which the universities agree to pay back the principal and interest with tuition. But the Legislature has had a history of covering the debt with general revenue funds.

The last time state legislators approved a major round of such bonds was in 2006 for nearly $2 billion.

School officials say the need for construction and remodeling is more urgent because of increasing student enrollment and aging infrastructure.

A state panel has made the approval of such bonds one of its top legislative recommendations. Since 2006, Chief Executive Raymund Paredes, of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, said the need for space at universities has grown by an estimated 23 million square feet.

“We estimate the projected cost to meet the full need is somewhere around $6.2 billion,” Paredes said.

State Sen. Kel Seliger, chairman of the Senate Higher Education Committee, said he thinks almost every university has some needs.

“I think the wish list probably comes to about $4.5 billion,” he said.


Information from: Austin American-Statesman, https://www.statesman.com

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