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Monday, June 7, 1999
Houston, Texas
Volume 64, Issue 146

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Legislature OKs a $26M funding increase for UH

Cougar News Services

According to preliminary reports, the UH System is slated to receive an overall 11.7-percent increase in funding under the 76th Texas Legislature's appropriations bills, but UH will not receive requested money that would have propelled the school to a Tier I research category.

The Systemwide funding increase translates into an 8.3-percent funding hike for UH. The University will receive $26 million in additional funds overall, including the largest general revenue increase of any state-supported school.

Meanwhile, UH's special items -- projects and programs for which funding is requested that is beyond the state-mandated formula funding provided to state schools -- will benefit from a $5.5-million increase. UH continues to receive more special-item funding than any other state school.

The special items that received 100 percent of their requested funding are:

• The Texas Center for Superconductivity at UH, a world-renowned center for research into superconductive materials, which will receive $8.68 million;

• The Partnerships for Support of Public Schools program, which will receive $2.8 million;

• The Texas Learning and Computation Center, which will receive $2.66 million in new funding;

• The Health Law and Policy Institute, a nationally recognized arm of the Law Center, which will receive $700,000; and

• The Texas Pharmacy Program, which will receive new funding of $1 million.

Other programs received increased funding this biennium, including the Center for Public Policy, which does statistical work for a number of governmental agencies. The center will receive a $400,000 increase in funding, bringing total funding to $600,000.

The UH Small Business Development Center will receive level funding of $4.3 million, as will the Houston Partnership for Space Exploration ($842,000) and the Space Vacuum Epitaxy Center ($946,000).

The strong funding for UH's special items comes after a period of uncertainty earlier in the legislative session. Under the original proposal from the Texas Senate, only two of the items -- TcSUH and the Small Business Development Center -- would have been funded.

Despite the special item funding, the University's request for some $40 million in research money to help become a Tier I research university was tabled for further discussion. As a Tier I university, UH would be able to more easily attract federal research grants and top-notch faculty.

However, the report said the additional money UH will receive from this session will help the school increase its research status.

In other business, the Legislature approved a proposal for UH to construct a student-funded recreation and wellness center on campus. The project was approved by students in a November 1998 referendum, but the Legislature had to approve the proposal before any definite plans for the facility could be made.

The Legislature also approved a Systemwide pay raise of $1,200 for the year for all nonfaculty staff members. In addition, if funds are available, faculty will be eligible for a 3-percent merit raise in the second year of the biennium.

Gov. George W. Bush must now approve the legislative bills for them to take effect. The last day the governor can approve or veto bills is June 20.


 
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