The Committee on Appropriations S/C on Article III met on February 22nd to discuss Article III education agencies. This report covers presentation on the Texas A&M system. An archive for part one of the hearing can be found here and part two here.

This report is intended to give you an overview and highlight the various topics taken up. It is not a verbatim transcript of the discussions but is based upon what was audible or understandable to the observer and the desire to get details out as quickly as possible with few errors or omissions.

Opening Comments

  • We will be discussing items in Article III pertaining to the Texas A&M Systems and the Texas State Systems


Texas A&M Systems

John Sharp, Chancellor for Texas A&M System

  • Provided overview of Texas A&M research & operations
  • In support of Hazelwood legacy relief
  • In support of Higher Ed Insurance increase
  • In support of regional student success program
  • In support of making formulas keep up with inflation
  • If those are supported by legislature, Chancellors have agreed not to increase tuition for as long as they are supported
  • Asked committee to look at base funding for agencies, the agencies are now the ones that help deal with disasters
  • Ask to look at ag-match for Prairie View A&M & its $18M, USDA would match that 100%
  • Asking for funding to help rebuild office in Vernon that was hit by tornado
  • VanDeaver- Can you expand on the Prairie View A&M request?
    • If you appropriate $18M, the USDA will also appropriate $18M, it will allow them to expand to 50 other counties and promote agriculture
  • Gervin-Hawkins- Why has there been a roadblock with Prairie View funds
    • We’ve asked for it every session but haven’t gotten the votes for it
  • Gervin-Hawkins- Did they say why?
    • No reason given
  • Morrison- Can you expand on how all the agencies work together for disasters?
    • TDEM can use any of our offices and it allows them to be right there if there’s a disaster. When a disaster happens all the command switches over to TDEM
  • Thimesch- How much is it for the tornado damage funding?
    • $15M
  • Thimesch- Is there no insurance on the property?
    • Cliff Lamb, A&M AgriLife Research- We have 13 research centers, and we look at the cost benefit of insurance. Insurance usually only kicks in after the first $2.5M is expended. Our Vernon facility is multiple building none of which account for $2.5M in value and there all older than 50 years. It was not insured but we do insure most of our more expensive buildings.
  • Tepper- Are none of these issues able to be addressed with PUF?
    • Sharp – The PUF fund is restricted to constructing buildings, and AUF funding can’t go to any of the agencies
  • Tepper- Bond indebtedness at the Texas A&M University System?
    • $985,679,270
  • Tepper- Why would there be bond indebtedness if you have the capital improvements with PUF?
    • Because you can’t build dorms with PUF
  • Bryant- Is the bonded indebtedness system wide?
    • It’s for dorms system wide and sometimes we do PPP with cities with land
  • Bryant- If the bonded indebtedness was paid off at any of these universities, would you be able to reduce the cost of housing for students?
    • I would imagine that is correct


Texas A&M College Station

Katherine Banks, President for Texas A&M University

  • Thank you for intent rider on affordability
  • Enrollment has increased by $17K since 2012
  • Formula funding can address enrollment growth
  • Need more GR funding to alleviate pressure on tuition and fees
  • In support of Hazelwood waiver, would like help with legacy portion
  • Would like more mental help services support
  • Exceptional item $50M funding for Texas A&M virtual production institute
  • Thimesch- For the exceptional item it says $50M per the biennium is this going to come up next session?
    • No this would only be a onetime ask
  • Tepper- How much is the cost for Hazelwood?
    • For us its $30M a year, the legacy portion is $23M
  • Ortega- I notice in the graph it went down, do you expect it to increase or decrease?
    • We expect it to increase


Texas A&M Service Agencies

Casey Floren, LBB

  • Presentation
  • The 7 agencies received combined increase of $55.6M in all funds for the adjustment
    • $53M in GR
    • $2.6M in GRD
  • Infrastructure support for all agencies totals $35.5M increase of $1.5M
  • Recommendation to modify rider to clarify due dates and use of funds
  • A&M Forest Services supplemental request was changed from $100M to $146M
  • A&M Frost Service request of $5M to cover cost not covered in federal agreement
  • Exceptional item request $187.5M in GR and GRD funds
  • Bryant- Can you explain how they connect to A&M
    • They do not charge tuition, they are part of the A&M University land grant mission


Texas A&M Division of Emergency Management

Casey Floren, LBB

  • Presentation
  • Recommendations include $42.7M in general revenue decrease of 62%
  • $2.4B in all funds a decrease of 64%
  • TDEM has received $6.5B in emergency services
  • Recommendations included modifying riders
  • Exceptional item request $319.4M in GR for workforce development projects


Jon Hurtado, Vice Chancellor for Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station

  • Spoke about the emerging technologies and work the system does
  • Thankful for the salary increase
  • Exceptional request of $10M over biennium to support energy resiliency and help enhance the state’s electric grid for future needs
  • Exceptional request $26.4M over biennium to help address the national need for a reliable domestic microchip supply chain and the opportunity to attract these types of business to Texas


Public Testimony

Ken Flippin, US Green Building Council

  • TEES does a great job, and they have made a big difference in the energy efficiency gains
  • In support of their budget ask
  • Regarding the $10M request we very much depend on them it helps lead the way in energy efficiency innovation


Cyrus Reed,

  • In support of TEES item request
  • Within TEES the energy systems lab has two main functions
    • They look at modern building energy codes and asses them
    • They are involved in the Texas Emission Reduction Plan, that help our state meet EPA ozone requirements
  • In support of giving funding from the TERP funds there are a lot of grants coming