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News Release from Comptroller Susan Combs

For Immediate Release
August 17, 2010

Comptroller Announces Scholarships for South Texas Students;

Recognizes Local Governments for Financial Transparency

(HARLINGEN) — Texas Comptroller Susan Combs met with local officials and college leaders in Harlingen today to recognize achievements made in technical education and praise financial transparency efforts from local governments.

For this upcoming school year, the Comptroller awarded Texas State Technical College a total of $170,100 from the JET (Jobs and Education for Texans) Career and Technical Scholarship Fund, which provides tuition grants for students enrolled in approved training programs. The school will use the funds to award scholarships to students preparing for several high‐demand occupations where a certificate or an associate degree is a basic prerequisite. Similarly, South Texas College in McAllen received $78,253 in scholarship funds and Texas Southmost College in Brownsville received $41,568.

“Students in the Rio Grande Valley are among thousands benefiting from the Every Chance Funds to cover tuition, books and other basic expenses that could otherwise prevent them from earning certificates and degrees that will enable them to better provide for themselves and their families,” Combs said.

In March 2010, Combs awarded $500,000 in JET Launchpad Fund to South Texas College. These funds help develop, support or expand nonprofit programs that prepare low-income students for careers in high-demand technical occupations, such as welding, computer support, engineering technology, nursing and allied health professions.

Also in October 2009, two Launchpad grants were awarded to the Valley Initiative for Development and Advancement (VIDA). The Comptroller awarded $400,000 to serve the organization’s students in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, plus another $300,000 to Cameron County students. VIDA is a community based, non-profit 501c3 agency created in 1995 by community leaders of Valley Interfaith and private industry business leaders.VIDA empowers underserved residents of the Rio Grande Valley with the education and training tools needed to become self sufficient. The organization also fuels growth for existing employers and increases the recruitment of new investments to the area by developing a highly skilled work force.

For more information about scholarship and equipment grant Every Chance Funds, visit www.everychanceeverytexan.org/funds.

Regarding local government transparency efforts, Cameron County and the cities of Brownsville and Pharr received the gold designation in the Texas Comptroller Leadership Circle, while the city of Harlingen and the Brownsville Independent School District received a silver designation. The Leadership Circle program recognizes cities, counties, school districts and other local governments that have taken their first steps toward openness, shown progress or even exceeded transparency standards in providing online access to their expenses and revenue.

“We appreciate the work of these Lower Rio Grande Valley officials who shine a light on spending and ensure greater accountability to the taxpayers,” Combs said. “We’re opening financial records for public examination so taxpayers can see exactly where their money is going, promoting greater accountability and raising expectations for customer service and government transparency at all levels.”

Local governments receiving an award have opened their books to the public and provide clear, consistent pictures of spending with detailed information on how tax dollars are allocated and spent. These top-ranking entities provide information online in an easily accessible, user-friendly format with features that allow taxpayers to easily drill down for more detailed information.

For tips and a step-by-step guide to achieve local government transparency, as well as a complete list of local governments in the Texas Comptroller Leadership Circle sorted by city, county and school district, visit www.TexasTransparency.org/local/. New entities are typically added on a weekly basis.

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