San Antonio (Dec. 2, 2003) – Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst visited the Medical Education Division of the Regional Academic Health Center on Nov. 18 to make a most- welcome announcement just before the holidays – namely that line-item vetoes in the state budget had freed up an additional $9 million to fund RAHC operating costs.
The leaders met a warm reception in Harlingen from Dr. Francisco G. Cigarroa, Health Science Center president, and Lower Rio Grande Valley lawmakers including Senators Eddie Lucio Jr. and Juan Hinojosa. President Cigarroa said the funding, which doubles the $9 million already appropriated for the RAHC this biennium, will help continue the programs of the Medical Education Division, located at Harlingen, and will enable the Health Science Center to continue to make preparations for the RAHC Medical Research Division to open in 2004 at Edinburg. The Health Science Center is responsible for operating the RAHC’s Harlingen and Edinburg divisions.
“Funding for the Regional Academic Health Center will play a vital role in treating, healing and improving the lives of people along the Texas-Mexico border,” Gov. Perry said. “The RAHC mission of training the future doctors and medical professionals of the Rio Grande Valley is critical to a healthier border and a healthier Texas.”
Lt. Gov. Dewhurst represented the Legislative Budget Board, which was to receive the formal request for the funding. He and Gov. Perry reached an agreement with House Speaker Tom Craddick for the additional RAHC appropriation.
“We are so grateful to Gov. Perry and Lt. Gov. Dewhurst for being with us today, for their support for the RAHC, and for bringing such welcome news,” Dr. Cigarroa said. “We are grateful to all our Valley delegation for their continued support, which ensures that the Regional Academic Health Center continues to be built on a solid foundation.”
Sen. Lucio, author of the 1997 legislation that established the center, was introduced as “the Father of the RAHC” by Harlingen Mayor Connie de la Garza. House sponsorship of the RAHC bill was accomplished by Sen. Hinojosa, then a representative. In an opinion editorial released Nov. 21, Sen. Lucio extended his “appreciation and gratitude to our state’s leadership on behalf of South Texas for their foresight in recognizing the need for this strategic investment in the area.”