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Texas Governor Perry Signs UTMB Funding and TWIA Reform Bill

Texas Governor Perry Signs UTMB Funding and TWIA Reform Bill

House Bill 4586 includes $150 million in funding for the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston and reforms the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA)

  • University of Texas Medical Branch faculty, residents and students stood and cheered as Gov. Rick Perry signed a bill giving the institution $150 million in recovery funds.
  • Perry traveled to the island to sign the legislation in Levin Hall, flanked by University of Texas System regents, island legislators and local officials.
HB 4586 secures more than $425 million dollars for disaster-related costs and expenditures, including $62 million in first-time funding for the state’s disaster contingency fund, $150 million for UTMB to recovery from Ike, and additional funding to help the recovery of communities affected by Ike.
  • Funding for UTMB includes repairing educational, research, hospital and clinic space, and permitting their Trauma Center to reopen this summer at Level Three status, and eventually back to Level One in early 2010.
  • Perry also signed HB 51 authorizing the issuance of $150 million in tuition revenue bonds for Hurricane Ike recovery at UTMB. The school will use these funds to build a new 200 bed hospital tower adjacent to the existing John Sealy Hospital, restoring bed capacity to 550, as it was prior to Hurricane Ike. These funds will be matched by a $200 million contribution from the Sealy Smith Foundation.
  • Between the 81st Texas Legislature's appropriations and other funding made possible by the legislature's actions, the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) will have $1.4 billion for restoration and expansion of facilities.
    • This is great news for Galveston Island and also The Emerald By The Sea high-rise that overlooks the beach and UTMB.
The governor also signed HB 4409 today which enacts necessary reforms to TWIA that will ultimately reduce the burden of catastrophic storms on the state and eventually establish TWIA as an insurer of last resort.
  • House Bill 4409 eases previous funding restrictions on TWIA by allowing coverage of up to $2.5 billion in losses through various funding methods. Damage payments can now be funded by premiums, reserves, public securities, commercial paper and other market source financial instruments.
  • The bill also requires the Texas Department of Insurance to maintain a list of insurers who voluntarily write windstorm coverage, and develop incentives for insurers to voluntarily write coverage along the coast.
  • This provision will assist consumers in searching for other providers with the goal of shifting the coverage burden away from TWIA, ultimately establishing it as an insurer of last resort as originally intended.  

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