Pending the signature of Texas Gov. Rick Perry, South Texas will have a brand new university, reported the Brownsville Herald Thursday.
The Texas Senate passed a legislation that would create a new school in a vote after what State Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville, and State Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen, called "contentious issues" were resolved.
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"We started this session with the goal of creating this new university," Lucio told the Brownsville Herald.
That is exactly what they achieved Wednesday night. Hinojosa, the bill's author, agreed to various amendments made to the legislation.
"I would like to thank the Valley delegation for working together as a unit," Hinojosa said on the Senate chamber floor. "I will tell you that for us there were some very contentious issues, but as we worked through the process we took the approach that would benefit the whole Valley."
It's not clear as to when Perry will sign the bill, but based on a statement made by the Texas governor, there is reason to be optimistic.
"The creation of this new university in South Texas is a historic moment for the future students who will fill the classrooms, proudly call this university their alma mater, and create a brighter future for themselves and their families," Perry said in a statement. "And through the creation of the new medical school, we continue our uncompromising commitment to improving access to care and keeping our growing population healthy."
The Permanent University Fund, when signed by Perry, will establish access to a share of $13.9 billion for the merged universities, according to the Brownsville Herald.
The two merging universities are the University of Texas-Brownsville (UTB) and the University of Texas-Pan American (UTPA).
"I'm almost speechless, if that's possible for me," UTB President Juliet V. Garcia told the Brownsville Herald.
Garcia also noted that discussion on what would happen next for both schools have been put on hold for now.
State Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo made a point to tell her colleagues about the importance of their decision.
"This is really about Texas. The focus is on South Texas but what is good for South Texas is good for the whole state."