DALLAS - Texas State University could issue $100 million of tuition revenue bonds for new construction on its rapidly developing Round Rock Higher Education Center under legislation introduced this week.

Two bills - HB 1602 and HB 1603 - would provide $73.4 million and $24.8 million, respectively, for the construction of two buildings. Both are sponsored by state Rep. Diana Maldonado, D-Round Rock.

The funding for the campus "would provide new opportunities to high school graduates and help to train a new generation of health professionals, which Texas so desperately needs," Maldonado said.

Health care has become the major mission of the multi-university Round Rock center north of Austin. The $73.4 million would finance a 10,000-square-foot building containing a research lab, a simulation lab, a conference room, and study areas. The building would serve four departments of the College of Health Professionals.

The $24.8 million would finance a building for the Center for Health Professions network, an advising center, faculty offices, and classrooms.

The TSU Board of Regents issues debt for the university's satellite campuses, and its flagship campus is in San Marcos, about 30 miles south of Austin, where the board is headquartered. With the higher education center in Austin's northern suburb of Round Rock, TSU has effectively leapfrogged over the massive University of Texas at Austin campus to join forces with a new Texas A&M medical school and Austin Community College.

TSU, rated AA-minus by Standard & Poor's and Aa3 by Moody's Investors Service, issued $218 million of revenue bonds last July for its various campuses, including Round Rock. The issue prompted an upgrade by Standard & Poor's from A-plus to AA-minus.

The same month, Austin Community College issued $120 million for its Round Rock campus, also earning an upgrade from Standard & Poor's to AA-plus from AA. Moody's rated the debt Aa3.

Sitting on 101 acres in the rapidly growing town that serves as headquarters for computer maker Dell Inc., the higher education center is currently just one building that houses all student services and programs. A second building for the nursing program is scheduled to open in fall 2010.

The Avery family of Williamson County, for whom TSU's first building in Round Rock is named, also donated 15 acres and sold 10 more for the Texas A&M Health Sciences Center's Round Rock campus. Until the new campus is built, the medical school is an office complex in Round Rock for administrative offices and student support.

Students at the medical school are affiliated with Scott & White University Medical Center in Temple, St. David's HealthCare, Seton Family of Hospitals, and Lone Star Circle of Care.

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