AUSTIN (AP) — Plans to build a new medical school in the Rio Grande Valley and merge border campuses in the University of Texas System has won approval in the Texas House.
The bill unanimously approved Tuesday would open a yet-unnamed medical school as early as 2016. House lawmakers cheered after passing the measure, which also cleared the Senate last week.
"The vote is absolutely fabulous. It is reflective of how important the Valley has become to Texas," said Rep. René Oliveira, lead author of the bill.
UT regents have already pledged $100 million to the project. The bill unifies campuses in Edinburg and Brownsville with a Harlingen health center, which is currently operated by the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio.
"The bill represents great promise. The promise of greater opportunity for our students; The promise of greater access to medical care to our entire population; and the promise of more job opportunity for people. It is rare that a piece of legislation can mean so much for so many," said Oliveira.
"This is a great moment for the Rio Grande Valley and the state of Texas," said State Rep. Eddie Lucio, D-San Benito on social media Tuesday.
The measure is widely supported from Gov. Rick Perry on down. But some House lawmakers made a point to say the new medical school will not solve the state's doctor shortage before voting.
For more on this story read Wednesday's Brownsville Herald.