A move to make Round Rock the new home for the Texas State University’s Allied School of Health Professions could get a $65 million infusion of cash under legislation passed by the Texas Senate that authorizes tuition revenue bonds for 60 higher ed construction projects across the state.
“We are bringing exponentially more students and faculty to the area,” said Rep. Larry Gonzales, R-Round Rock. “Students who need a place to live, students who will be looking for a place to buy groceries and put gas in their cars. We’re looking at faculty hopefully relocating here, maybe buying some homes, maybe investing and putting down some deeper roots within our community here. So it’s great for the educational infrastructure, but as a sidebar, really good for the economic infrastructure and what it means for the area in general.”
On April 23, senators authorized $2.4 billion in tuition revenue bonds, or TRBs, to finance $4.1 billion for some 60 construction projects at 58 colleges and universities across the state. The bill includes $56 million for a joint project between Texas State University and the Texas A&M University System Health Science Center for a medical education and research building in Round Rock, as well as an additional $9 million for the Texas A&M University System Health Science Center Round Rock facility.
The bill was authored by a bipartisan coalition of senators and approved unanimously by that chamber last week. It now goes to the Texas House for a committee hearing and, if it passes committee, a floor vote.
“TRB approval would allow Texas State University to build the proposed new Health Professions Building on its Round Rock campus, facilitating academic programs and research,” said Texas State University Provost Gene Bourgeois. “With a new building, we would move several of Texas State's Health Professions programs to Round Rock, adding to the growing concentration of health and medical education programs, hospitals, and other health care services in Round Rock.
“In addition, its construction and operations would generate notable economic benefits. For example, the Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos area business activity gains from this project are estimated to total $51.2 million annually, with another $32.1 million in business activity resulting from construction. Likewise, the economic benefits projected include 350 permanent jobs for the Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos area.”
Tuition revenue bonds are issued by universities and backed by the money expected to come from tuition as a result of the bond. According to one of the bill’s authors, the Texas Legislature typically passes a tuition revenue bond bill about every four years.
But lawmakers under severe budget constraints skipped the last couple of sessions, and now colleges and universities “are bursting at the seams,” said Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, one of the bill’s sponsors.