As part of the $39.6 billion allocated to higher education in the American Rescue Plan, Texas lawmakers have designated $3.3 billion to construct new buildings at state universities and some renovations. The bill includes money because colleges and universities remain financially pinched from the pandemic.
$3.3 billion, though a high number, represents a pared-down portion of the original bill presented to the Texas House Appropriations Committee. The new bill portions out the bulk finances to the University of Texas and Texas A&M, each is receiving more than 20% of the overall funding.
The most significant earmarked projects include:
• The University of North Texas at Dallas, $163 million for the construction of a new science building
• The University of Texas at Arlington, $134 million for the renovation of the life sciences building
• The University of Houston, $128 million for construction of a medical research building
• The University of Texas at El Paso, $100 million for construction of a multi-purpose building
• The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth, $84 million for campus space optimization
• Texas A&M International University, $80 million for construction of the health science education and research center
• The University of Texas at Tyler, $76 million for construction of a science building
Along with granting funds for these projects, Texas governor Abbort established the Capital Project Oversight Advisory Commission to develop standards and guidelines for construction and capital projects.
DeWayne Burns, the Texas House State Representative who introduced the bill said he wanted to make sure all schools had an equal chance for funding. "We tried to be fair and give every location a bite of the apple and an opportunity to go forward with their project."
Texas lawmakers hope to inject a surge of funding into state universities to invigorate post-covid school building projects.