Gov. Rick Perry called lawmakers back for third 30-day special session Tuesday to deal with a $4 billion hole in transportation funding. Although Perry has only put transportation funding on the agenda, some lawmakers hope they will be able to pass key measures in higher education policy this time around.
Minutes after the governor decided to keep them in Austin, lawmakers filed at least three bills to fund campus construction projects at the state's higher education institutions. Perry has given no indication that he will add the so-called tuition revenue bonds to the agenda but has said in the past he would keep an open mind after the Legislature passed a transportation bill. The Legislature can only act on items the Perry puts on the agenda.
SB 10, a campus construction bill, was filed on Tuesday with 22 senators signed on as authors. Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, and Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, also filed bills for campus construction projects. UT-Austin is currently hoping to receive $95 million for a new engineering building.
Rumors were rampant on social media that the governor would add campus construction projects and measures for a concealed firearms on campus to the agenda, but by Tuesday evening only transportation was on the call.
"When it comes to transportation, the stakes facing our state could not be higher, and a failure to act now could take years - if not most of a decade - to correct, as traffic congestion increases and harms our quality of life," Perry said in a statement.