University Leaders Testify before Higher Ed Subcommittees

(AUSTIN) — Testimony regarding the financial structure for colleges and universities and capital funding highlighted today’s (Wednesday) two higher education hearings at the Texas Capitol.

The Senate Finance Higher Education Subcommittee held a hearing to address the interim charges issued by Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst about higher education financing and to make recommendations regarding any necessary changes in the structure and organization of higher education.

Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, chair of the Senate Finance Higher Education Subcommittee, presided during the hearing to discuss research and financing for capital projects for academic, health-related institutions, and flagship research universities.

Testimony was offered by representatives from Texas A&M System, Stephen F. Austin State University, University of Texas at Austin, Prairie View A&M University and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

After the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Higher Education committee adjourned, the Senate Higher Education Subcommittee convened to hear testimony regarding the need for new higher education institutions, long-term strategic planning, medical education, and the value of associating a medical school with a top-tier academic campus.

“Each session we focus on financing higher education and the need for new campuses to expand higher education opportunities for Texans,” Senator Zaffirini said. “We must continue to focus on options for improvement of the current funding structure so that the needs of students and universities are fulfilled.”

The legislature appropriated $16.5 billion for higher education during the current biennium.

Senator Zaffirini Announces Partnership for Veterans

(LAREDO) — Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, today (Monday) announced that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is collaborating with the Texas Veterans Commission to initiate an innovative pilot program that expedites the resolution of veterans’ disability claims. The program focuses on obtaining evidence in a timelier manner and providing faster decisions for veterans.

“I am pleased that Texas veterans’ disability concerns will be addressed more quickly,” Senator Zaffirini said. “Those who valiantly served our country deserve the best possible benefits and service, and this program is an effort to ensure that veterans receive the disability services and health care they need.”

Each year more than $1.9 billion in VA benefit payments are issued to Texas veterans and their survivors based on awards processed by the Texas Veterans Commission in Waco.

More information about VA benefits and services is available via www.va.gov or call 1-800-827-1000.