$157M in new money plus addition of another state agency approved
COLLEGE STATION, Texas — The Legislature approved a record $157 million in new funding for institutions of The Texas A&M University System, and it passed legislation to transfer the Texas Division of Emergency Management to the A&M System as its eighth state agency.
Governor Greg Abbott now reviews the appropriations bill and other legislation, and the Comptroller’s office must certify there will be funds to cover state appropriations for the next two years.
“We are grateful to the Governor, Lt. Governor, Speaker and state lawmakers for considering positively our requests,” said Chancellor John Sharp. “They have made a huge difference in resources for the Texas A&M System to carry out its critical mission of education, research and service to our great state.”
The $157 million in new money included $55 million to address per student funding equity between Texas A&M University and the University of Texas at Austin. Two years ago, state officials awarded UT an extra $55 million to address potential funding losses that would have been based, in part, on its capped enrollment. Typically, increases in higher education funding are based on growth.
Texas A&M University found itself educating more students but with less state money per student. The Legislature corrected that inequity this year.
Lawmakers also approved a package of recommendations presented by Chancellor Sharp, acting as the leader of the Governor’s Commission to Rebuild Texas, in the report, “The Eye of the Storm.” It included transferring the Texas Division of Emergency Management from the Texas Department of Public Safety to the Texas A&M System.
The transfer, which Gov. Abbott supports, will allow for better coordination between the Texas Division of Emergency Management and Texas A&M System’s disaster response operations such as Texas A&M Task Force One, the Texas A&M Forest Service and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.
Nim Kidd will now oversee all of the state’s emergency preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation activities as the chief of the Texas Division of Emergency Management and the Vice Chancellor for Disaster and Emergency Services at the Texas A&M System. He will still answer to the governor, who by law is in charge of responding to disasters.
“The state of Texas already has the best disaster rescue operations in the country,” Chancellor Sharp said. “We believe this will make the state’s efforts seamless from disaster rescue through disaster recovery and mitigation.”
The appropriations bill includes $10.4 million for a state disaster recovery task force, plus $6.8 million to use Texas A&M AgriLife Extension agents to perform disaster readiness work for the state, building on the county agents’ experience in helping coastal communities recover from Hurricane Harvey.
Other “Eye of the Storm” recommendations winning approval included the creation of a Texas A&M Institute for Disaster Resilience as well as the establishment of a $3 billion fund to support a statewide flood plan similar to the statewide water plan.
Another priority for the Texas A&M System was increasing formula funding – based on growth — for higher education. The Legislature added $201 million to universities statewide, including $19 million to support universities with enrollments below 10,000. That Small Institution Supplement will help A&M universities in Galveston, Texarkana, Central Texas, San Antonio, Laredo, Kingsville and Prairie View.
Other notable items in the appropriations bill:
- $12.8 million in new research funding for Texas A&M University.
- $3.3 million in new money to the Texas A&M Health Science Center, thanks to the growth in Public Health and Nursing programs.
- $4 million for West Texas A&M to establish a food animal production initiative to serve the Panhandle, including the hiring of additional professors.
- $3.6 million for Texas A&M University-Texarkana to create a “Better East Texas” program, including five new academic programs to respond to the region’s educational, workforce and health needs.
- $3 million to support Upper Level coursework at Texas A&M University-Central Texas.
- $3 million to support the continued expansion of Texas A&M University-San Antonio as a four-year institution.
- $2.3 million for engineering programs at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.
- $2 million for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension’s Brighter Bites program to promote better nutrition and overall health.
- $2 million for the Texas Juvenile Crime Prevention Center at Prairie View A&M University.
- $1.7 million for Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station’s workforce training program at the NASA Space Center in Houston.
- $1.5 million for Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station’s Nuclear Power Institute.
- $1.2 million for poultry labs, which are operated by the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory and provide critical protection to the poultry industry from infectious diseases and other threats.
- $400,000 to restore funding for the Citrus Center at Texas A&M University-Kingsville.
About The Texas A&M University System
The Texas A&M University System is one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation, with a budget of $4.7 billion. Through a statewide network of 11 universities and seven state agencies, the Texas A&M System educates more than 153,000 students and makes more than 22 million additional educational contacts through service and outreach programs each year. System-wide, research and development expenditures exceeded $996 million in FY 2017 and helped drive the state’s economy.
Contact: Laylan Copelin
Vice Chancellor of Marketing and Communications
(512) 289-2782 cell