With the results of the 86th Texas Legislative Session, the Texas Tech System experienced a variety of victories regarding new campus institutions and state funding.
Tech System Chancellor and Tech Health Sciences Center President Tedd L. Mitchell and Tech President Lawrence Schovanec provided their insight on the continued support for the Tech School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM), the HSC El Paso Woody L. Hunt School of Dental Medicine and the System overall during a news conference at 9 a.m. on June 18 at 1508 Knoxville Ave. in the System Administration Building.
With the help of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who signed appropriation bills on June 15, Mitchell said this recent legislative session was an impactful one.
“We are here today because Gov. Abbot, this past weekend, signed the last of the legislative appropriations that were sent to him by the 86th Legislature,” he said. “In that, we’ve had an absolutely historic legislative session for the Texas Tech University System, and I would say for all of West Texas.”
Regarding Texas and the System, Mitchell said there were increases in funding.
“The legislature increased higher education spending by six percent statewide,” he said. “If you look at the Texas Tech University System, we’re able to participate in that. We have an increase in the overall budget of our components of $57 million, which is six percent of an increase for us.”
During the conference, Mitchell and Schovanec discussed System growth and projects that will be possible due to the results of the legislative session.
Since Abbot signed the budget bill, Schovanec said the System’s full funding request was fulfilled for the SVM, and the language of the bill will allow the continuation of the vet school.
“For Texas Tech University, we’ll see about a $25 million increase in overall support from the state in the biennium,” he said. “That includes non-formula funding and an additional $13 million for the School of Veterinary Medicine. For this biennium, we’ll have at our disposal $17 million to move forward in the hiring of faculty.”
In addition to the financial support being approved, Mitchell said the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board will make sure the degrees the SVM will grant are degrees that Texas needs.
“There’s a whole series of things that you have to go through with the coordinating board,” Mitchell said. “We’ve had great discussions with staff members of the coordinating board as well as the members themselves.”
The System’s proposal being sent to the board in February and a site visit by the board are factors Mitchell said make up the next step of process. He said the approved funding for the SVM helps in gaining support from the board.
Regarding future plans for the SVM, Mitchell said there will be a groundbreaking in September and the first students will attend the school in fall 2021.
“We’ve already had a preliminary visit from the American Veterinary Medical Association,” Schovanec said regarding next steps for the SVM. “We’ll be moving forward with the accreditation issues, the hiring of faculty, the development of the curriculum and the facilities.”
In addition to the support for the SVM, Schovanec said Tech received support in other areas.
There was about a six percent increase in the general revenue for Tech, Schovanec said. Along with this revenue increase, he said state support also consists of funding for the Core Research Support Fund.
Additional projects that will be funded include the HSC El Paso dental school, the HSC mental health program TWITR, which stands for Telemedicine Wellness, Intervention, Triage and Referral Project, and Angelo State University’s second consecutive biennium.
The HSC El Paso received $20 million to establish the dental school, according to a Tech System news release. The HSC received $5 million for the TWITR program.
Regardless of the state support the System’s institutions received after this legislative session, one may consider the work that was put in to obtain support for the System and its institutions.
Texas Senator for District 28 Charles Perry said he trusted that he and his colleagues would get the job done during the legislative session.
“It took a team effort,” he said. “The team came through.”
In addition to Perry’s statement, Texas Representative for District 83 Dustin Burrows said a lot of work went into supporting just the vet school.
“There was a lot of trials and tribulations before the session began, during the session, but it all led to a very productive result,” he said. “I think a lot of people deserve a lot of credit.”