Despite UTA’s efforts, legislative funding for a new social work building will likely not come this session.
House Bill 2000, the bill that would have authorized revenue bonds to fund capital projects for UTA and 55 other higher education campuses across the state, never passed the Texas Senate Higher Education Committee.
According to the bill, the funds would have gone to a new College of Nursing and Health Innovation and Social Work Building. The bill would have also funded the Life Science Building renovations.
The bill would've had to be read on the Senate floor by Wednesday to be passed into law this legislative session, which it did not.
“We are still working on efforts to try to get money in some of the outstanding bills for our projects, but it has become much harder,” said Jeff Jeter, UTA Government Relations associate vice president.
President Vistasp Karbhari said during a Feb. 18 Pizza with the President that although the Social Work Building is currently safe for operation, it could become a problem down the line because of structural issues.
Before the session is over, the university hopes to get funding for this project through the state budget bill, House Bill 1, or Senate Bill 500, a supplemental appropriations bill. However, securing legislative funding for the capital projects through these bills will be difficult, Jeter said.
“It's a reach, but it's an eleventh hour type of thing,” he said.
HB 1 and SB 500 have a midnight Sunday deadline to be passed, according to the Legislative Reference Library website.
The university can still pursue funding through the UT System or soliciting donors, Jeter said.
The death of HB 2000 is not something Jeter expected, but he said the 86th Legislative session should end favorably for UTA regardless.
Given the university's growth and the legislature's decision to invest more money in higher education across the state, the amount that UTA receives through formula funding should still be an increase over the previous state budget, Jeter said.
“We will hopefully continue advocating for new projects, including the two we have advocated for this session, until they are completed,” he said.