~ Promises to address financial issues, maintain proud history of TSU ~
(Austin)-- State Representative Garnet F. Coleman (Houston) announced that he is filing legislation to provide financial assistance to Texas Southern University and maintain the proud, long-standing history of Texas Southern University.
"Though regrettable, these financial issues are not something that are unique to Texas Southern University," Rep. Coleman said. "These transgressions are the actions of at least two individuals -- Priscilla Slade and Chief Financial Officer Quentin Wiggins -- through alleged criminal collusion. Those issue are being investigated by the district attorney at this time."
Rep. Coleman pledged to continue working with Governor Perry on ensuring that all financial issues are properly and fairly addressed, and that Texas Southern University will be able to maintain its strong and independent place in the community.
"I applaud Governor Rick Perry for admonishing his board appointees to the Texas Southern University Board of Regents, but it is wrong for anyone to suggest that these are endemic problems at Texas Southern University," Rep. Garnet Coleman said. "These problems occurred under the tenure of President Priscilla Slade. I'm pleased to continue working with Governor Perry to address these issues and maintain the strong status of our proud institution, Texas Southern University."
In the last special session, the Texas Legislature authorized $46 million in tuition revenue bonds for Texas Southern University. $31 million was authorized for the new technology building, and $15 million was authorized for classroom buildings in northwest Houston. Rep. Coleman is filing legislation to use $17 million of those $46 million to re-allocate the bond money to help pay for part of the $54 million in deferred maintenance costs of the university.
"We have money available that can be spent to pay for existing debt," Rep. Coleman said. "These are issues that will be dealt with over the next ten years through each successive biennium as stated. They will be covered by dollars that are allocated approximately every four years specifically for that purpose from the Higher Education Assistance Fund (HEAF) and tuition revenue bonds. "
In addition, Rep. Coleman issued the following statement to clarify existing financial issues that were outlined by Governor Perry's office as things that must be immediately dealt with at Texas Southern University:
• Shuttle service and paring garage fees which have led to $34 million in debt
"Just as is done at every university in Texas, there are existing bonds that must be paid for over time," Rep. Coleman said. "I will file legislation to create the transportation fee, which, along with any student parking fees, will be used to pay for the debt service and the bonds for the garage and shuttle costs."
• Missing purchase orders and outstanding payables to vendors and others
"The purchase orders were problems created by Priscilla Slade by hiding invoices that should have been paid," Rep. Coleman said.
• Athletics department spending - $2 million over budget
"It is not unusual for an athletics department to be over budget, and it doesn't help that Priscilla Slade insisted on playing games at Reliant Stadium instead of at TSU's own home stadium.," Rep. Coleman said.
• Dormitories don't have high enough occupancy rates adequate to support outstanding payments
"We need to find who authorized the deal between TSU and the private housing corporation that built the student apartments and hold that person or those people responsible," Rep. Coleman said.
• Out of date information technology
"My home computer needs an overhaul," Rep. Coleman said. "We should not single out TSU for having out-of-date information technology when every university in this state has out-of-date information technology."
• Over staffing at TSU
"Clearly, the University needs the appropriate amount of support to operate efficiently and well, but if there's an area that's overstaffed, it makes sense to reduce force," Rep. Coleman said. "It is something that should be examined closely and with great care and sensitivity to the wonderful employees at TSU."
Rep. Coleman emphasized his unending support for Texas Southern University.
"My job is to protect, preserve, and improve the independent status of Texas Southern University, an institution whose historical legacy and continued promise for our community is an essential priority for my district," Rep. Coleman said.
Please do not hesitate to contact Rep. Garnet Coleman for any further clarification about these or any other future issues concerning Texas Southern University at (512) 463-0524.
Contact: Phillip Martin
5445 Almeda, Suite 501