Committee Report (Unamended)
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE
Tarleton State University System Center – Central Texas (Tarleton – CT) opened in the fall of 1999. Currently, all available space is fully utilized and options for responding to increased demand are very limited. Tarleton – CT is presently renting and/or borrowing classroom space from the local independent school district and a community college. These other institutions have priority use of the facilities, therefore 80 percent of the center's classes must be scheduled after 4:00 pm. By not having one location where both day and night classes are offered, Tarleton – CT students are at a disadvantage in earning a bachelor's degree.
In its December 2006 Regional Plan for Higher Education, Summary of Needs in Central Texas, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board recognized the need to accommodate enrollment increases in Central Texas stating that "Tarleton State University-Central Texas University System Center in Killeen could help accommodate expanding demand." Additionally, the United States Congress provided for conveyance of approximately 700 acres of land to the Texas A&M University System for the purpose of establishing Texas A&M University – Central Texas (which Tarleton – CT will become when a statutory full time student threshold is met). Fort Hood supported the effort to convey part of its base for this center as base leadership believes that its soldiers and their families deserve access to public upper-level educational opportunities. Tuition revenue bonds in the amount of $25 million were authorized for Texas A&M University – Central Texas during the 79th Legislature, 3rd Called Session, 2006 in Section 55.1761(d), Education Code. However, the school is not eligible to receive the bonds until it reaches an enrollment equivalent of 1,500 full-time students for one semester.
As proposed, HB 1668 authorizes the Texas A&M University System to issue the previously authorized revenue bonds when the institution reaches the enrollment equivalent prescribed by Section 87.861(d), Education Code, currently set at 1,000 full-time students for one semester. This change would make the statutes regarding tuition revenue bonds and stand-alone status consistent with each other and hasten the funding mechanism necessary to construct a building to house the institution's administration and instruction functions.
It is the committee's opinion that this bill does not expressly grant any additional rulemaking authority to a state officer, department, agency, or institution.
SECTION 1: Section 55.1751 (d) of the Education Code is amended to eliminate existing language and add additional language. Notwithstanding existing language, the Texas A&M University System may not issue bonds for facilities at Texas A&M University--Central Texas until the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board certifies that enrollment at the Tarleton State University System Center--Central Texas in Killeen has reached the student enrollment equivalent prescribed. Provides an expiration date.
SECTION 2: Effective date.
This Act takes effect September 1, 2007.