Texas House, Senate at odds on Tech Vet School funding

Texas House, Senate at odds on Tech Vet School funding

AUSTIN, TX (KCBD) - The Texas House and Senate have a long way to go on agreeing how best to fund the proposed Texas Tech School of Veterinary Medicine.

The two sides of the capitol have a $13 million difference when it comes to funding for the school, based on appropriation bills released Monday and Tuesday.

The House has a combined budget of $17.35 Million for the 2020 and 2021 fiscal years for the specific purpose of curriculum design, hiring of faculty and getting the planned four-year program in order.

MORE: 2020-2021 Texas House Appropriations Bill

The Senate’s bill isn’t as generous, and doesn’t see the planned Amarillo school as a foregone conclusion. Their budget offers just under $4.2 Million in the same two year people with a caveat that the funds will only be released once the legislature of Higher Education Coordinating Board has approved the program.

That amount is the same given during the 85th legislature in 2017 as a “feasibility study” on starting the school.

MORE: 2020-2021 Texas Senate Appropriations Bill

A search of the Texas Legislature Online does not show any pending bills in either the Senate or House creating the school. The HECB has their next quarterly meeting set for Jan. 24 in Austin, but the vet school is not on their agenda.

The HECB could take up discussion of the school at their April meeting. The 86th legislature wraps up in late May.

Texas Tech system regents approved the school in August 2018 with an initial five-year operating budget of $82 Million.

In a statement Tuesday night, Texas Tech system chancellor Tedd Mitchell thanked the legislature for what he called an ‘important’ first step. “We are thankful to the members of the House and Senate for their commitment to higher education in Texas. This is an important first step, and we appreciate the Legislature’s confidence in the universities of the Texas Tech University System.”

Texas House member Ken King, whose district reaches from Seminole through the Panhandle, was equally pleased. “Its great on both ends and it says the legislature is serious about funding the vet school. As for the next steps, I am excited.”

Currently Texas A&M University in College Station is the only accredited veterinary medicine program in the state. Leaders there have argued the lack of need for an additional vet school in Texas, calling the idea “completely redundant.”

Three states, Alabama, California and Tennessee each have two schools accredited with the American Veterinary Medical Association.

If the vet school is greenlighted, the university system hopes classes could begin as early as 2021.

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