Senator Hinojosa, Nueces County Legislative Delegation secure funding for Coastal Bend priorities in the State Budget

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Sept. 1, was the first day of the new state budget that was approved by the Texas Legislature in May of this year. The state's $248 billion budget for the next two years fully funds public education, contains investments in higher education, strengthens funding for mental health, and funds many Coastal Bend priorities.

"One of the most important responsibilities of the Texas Legislature is to pass a two-year state budget that is fiscally responsible and takes care of the needs of Texans across the state," said Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa. "I was honored to work with my Senate colleagues and with the members of our Nueces County legislative delegation to ensure that our Coastal Bend priorities remained funded in the budget. Overall, we were successful in maintaining or increasing funding for our priorities."

The state budget includes more than $145 million in funding for Texas A&M Corpus Christi, over $2 million of which supports the recently created civil and industrial engineering programs. "Education is the best equalizer and investments in our institutions of higher education and our students are critical in helping Texas recover more quickly from the pandemic," said Senator Hinojosa. "Our delegation continues to strongly support and advocate for funding for new programs and financial aid for our students."

This past session, the Legislature approved first time funding of $3 million to create the Texas A&M Corpus Christi Unmanned Aircraft Emergency Management program to provide public service to all the state by supporting critical emergency response and disaster relief demands. Moreover, the budget increased funding for Del Mar Community College by nearly $2 million; provides $8.5 million to the UT Marine Science Institute; allocates $8.6 million for the Healthy South Texas program administered by the Texas A&M Health Science Center, headquartered in Corpus Christi; and, includes $1.25 billion for financial aid programs for students enrolled in a higher education institution.

The Legislature also continued funding for grant programs that have benefitted the Coastal Bend. Approved funding includes: $40 million for Port Access Improvements grants and $30 million in Defense Economic Adjustment Assistance (DEAAG) Grants. "To date, the Port of Corpus Christi has been awarded nearly $10 million in grant funds from the Port Access Improvement program for safety improvements to the Joe Fulton International Trade Corridor and the three military installations in the region have received $7 million from the Governor’s DEAAG program," said Senator Hinojosa. "I commend these entities, their staff and their leadership, for applying and securing these grants in the past. Our delegation will continue supporting their efforts and advocating for approval of future projects submitted for grant funding."

Due to Texans supporting and passing Proposition 5 in November 2019, funding for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department was increased by a total of $100.6 million to a total of $316.9 million in the 2021 session. Part of this funding includes $500,000 for the Texas State Aquarium Wildlife Rescue Center. "Securing these funds for the Texas State Aquarium was a priority this session," said Senator Hinojosa. "The Coastal Bend has been hit by hurricanes and this year was impacted by Winter Storm Uri. These events not only impact humans, they also impact our marine animals and other wildlife in the region. Tom Schmid and his team work tirelessly and have a great reputation for rescuing and rehabilitating animals to return them to their natural habitat."

Lastly, the approved budget increased funding for public education by $2 billion which includes $664 million for targeted programs to help students and schools affected by the pandemic; includes $8.4 billion in behavioral health funding across 25 state agencies; adds $10.2 million for women's health programs for total funding of $352.6 million; and, includes $26.5 billion for highway planning and design, construction, and other purposes.

These are just some of the highlights of the funding approved by the Texas Legislature during the 2021 87th Regular Session that went into effect Sept. 1st.