AUSTIN -- Representative Ryan Guillen praised U.S. Rep. Ciro Rodriguez this week, saying he is hopeful changes being pushed by Rodriguez in federal rules will release $124 million for Texas and allow many of the children who were cut off the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to be included in the program once again.
Guillen was one of a minority of Texas House of Representatives members who attempted to amend the new state budget to include more funds for CHIP funding and for general health and education funding increases. Guillen said two other bills Rodriguez is pushing will provide funds for improved housing for poor and low income families along the border and help provide more teachers for Texas schools in areas like math, science and special education.
"Efforts like these will help to restore some of the cuts that were made to the Texas budget this year and help our schools in the task of giving Texas students a better education. Our staffs work together on many local issues, and I salute Rep. Rodriguez for his leadership in Washington and his dedication to the people of south Texas," Guillen said.
The three bills include:
On June 12, the Senate Finance Committee approved a measure (S 312) that would allow states, including Texas, to retain and spend unexpended FY 2000 Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) funds. Similar legislation (HR 531) is pending in the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
If legislation is enacted before June 30,, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will redistribute funds to states with unexpended FY 2000 CHIP allocations. Under this reallocation, Texas would receive an estimated $124 million to serve children and families in need. HHS is expected to issue a final rule governing redistribution of remaining CHIP funds prior to June 30.
On June 16, US Departments of Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman and Housing Secretary Mel Martinez announced a cooperative effort designed to improve housing and economic conditions in the Southwest border region of the United States.
Under the agreement between USDA and HUD, the two departments intend to work to coordinate the delivery of their programs and services to residents of the border region, including colonias, to improve access to assistance, and to achieve maximum program effectiveness. Cooperation may include cross-marketing of programs, cross-training of staff, and jointly preparing educational materials. Personnel from both departments will work together on one or more pilot projects to evaluate whether improved cooperation can materially improve conditions in the colonias and areas heavily populated by very low-income migrant farmworkers.
On June 10, the House Education and Workforce Committee approved by voice vote, HR 438, the "Teacher Recruitment and Retention Act." The measure provides increased loan forgiveness for instructors who teach at least five years in critical shortage areas of math, science, or special education in high poverty schools. Currently, Texas has a shortage of certified teachers in areas of math, science, and special education.
HR 438 increases loan forgiveness eligibility from the current $5,000 to $17,500. This provision mirrors one included in the President's FY 2004 budget.
Those who teach subjects other than math, science, and special education would remain eligible for up to $5,000 in loan forgiveness.
Amendments to extend loan forgiveness to all teachers at Title I schools, Head Start instructors, and teachers in rural schools were not adopted.
The House could consider both bills as early as the week of June 16. A Senate companion bill, S 291, is awaiting consideration in the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
From the office of: State Representative Ryan Guillen
District 31 : Duval, Starr, Webb and Zapata Counties
CONTACT: Director Robert McVey ( email@example.com )
Office 512-463-0416 -- Cell 512-779-8914 -- Home 512-374-9525 FAX 512-463-1012
Southern District Office: