McALLEN, RGV – As the 84th Texas Legislature adjourned Sine Die, state Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa reviewed his legislative accomplishments over the past five months.
The veteran lawmaker from McAllen, who is vice chair of the powerful Senate Committee on Finance, says he and his staff have had one of their best ever sessions. He provided the Rio Grande Guardian with a list of some of the major bills he passed and funding appropriations he was able to secure.
“I am proud of what we accomplished this session for South Texas and the entire State. We had important legislative victories and crafted a balanced budget that takes care of Texans. This session I passed over 60 individual pieces of legislation and secured millions of dollars for priorities in South Texas and the Coastal Bend regions,” Hinojosa said.
Hinojosa represents Senate District 20, which includes all of Brooks and Jim Wells counties, 58 percent of Hidalgo County and 99 percent of Nueces County.
An attorney, former migrant farm worker and Vietnam War veteran, Hinojosa served in the Texas House of Representatives between 1981 and 1991, and between 1997 and 2002. He has served in the Senate since 2003.
“Among the many bills I passed were key bills that reform our forensic science practices to protect the integrity of the criminal justice system and preserve individuals’ liberties; legislation to enhance job creation; bills that protect the health and safety of our children; and legislation to protect and preserve our military communities,” Hinojosa said.
Hinojosa said he is also leased to pass the Office of Inspector General Sunset bill. “This bill will provide due process, increase transparency, and get at actual fraud while not wasting our resources on innocent providers,” he said.
Hinojosa was one of ten legislators who worked on reconciling differences between the House and Senate versions of the $209 billion state budget for 2016-17. He ran through some of the items in the budget he is particularly pleased about.
“In the final budget, I was able to secure over $60 million for our new medical school at the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley. I was also able to secure $7 million for the Engineering Program and $60 million of TRBs for the Life Sciences Research and Engineering building at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.”
TRBs are tuition revenue bonds and are generally used to provide funds to acquire, purchase, construct, improve, renovate, enlarge or equip property, buildings, structures, facilities, roads or related infrastructure on or for a university.
“The final budget adopted increases access and funding to services needed by our most vulnerable populations — the young, elderly, sick, and poor. We invested in infrastructure, border security, and our students. The budget will pave the way for an educated and healthy workforce and a successful Texas economy,” Hinojosa added.
Hinojosa’s Capitol office provided this list of “significant funding accomplishments” contained in the new state budget for Senate District 20, the Valley and South Texas:
· UT Rio Grande Valley Medical School – $61 million
· Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi – $7 million for Engineering Program
· Funding for military communities statewide including Corpus Christi -$30 million
· DPS Multiuse Training Facility in Edinburg – $1.6 million
· Hanger Expansion at the South Texas International Airport in Edinburg – $3 million
· Texas State Aquarium – $9 million
· TRBs for the Life Sciences Research and Engineering building at Texas A&M- Corpus Christi – $60 million
· DPS large capacity driver license office in Edinburg
· DPS Law Enforcement Training Center at South Texas College – $2 million
· Texas AIM – $4.5 million
· TEA AMACHI (Big Brothers Big Sisters) – $2.5 million
· Teach for America – $12 million
· Texas A&M Healthy South Texas Initiative – $10 million
· Del Mar College Maritime Museum – $200,000
· Thirteenth Court of Appeals (Corpus Christi & RGV) – $500,000 additional funding
· Nineteen new Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Game Wardens to be stationed along the border – $5.3 million
· New Texas Rangers company along the border with22 new Rangers
· Border Prosecution Grant Program – $9 million
· Texas Transnational Intelligence Center – $2.4 million
· Six additional agents at the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission’s Special Investigations Unit – $1.2 million
· Acquisition of and support of a fully equipped Pilatus aircraft – $7.5 million
· Women’s Institute for Technology and Training – $500,000