TXEXplainer: Prop 1 Passed. What’s Next?

After the election, both proponents and opponents of the measure are wondering the same thing: what happens now? 

On Tuesday, Travis County voters approved Central Health Proposition 1, the last measure needed to secure a medical school for UT-Austin. There’s a long way left to go from blueprint to bedside, but at a press conference Wednesday morning, UT officials made it clear that they’re hitting the ground running.

  1. Officials are hoping to admit the first medical students in 2015. About 50 students, to be exact. But that’s an “aggressive” assessment, according to both President Powers and Provost Steven Leslie. In order to admit a class in 2015, UT would have to break ground in 2013, meaning the process of selecting a dean, finalizing the design, and—perhaps most importantly—securing at site for both the school and the corresponding teaching hospital will begin immediately and wrap up quickly.
  2. The medical campus will work closely with the academic campus. While roughly 35 new faculty will be brought on the staff the medical school, the bulk of the faculty will be “redeployed” from existing academic departments, with fewer hours at the academic campus backstopped so that capacity is added, not lost. The synergies between a research and clinical medical school and a research and teaching academic campus were a motivating factor in bringing a medical school to Austin.
  3. There’s already a plan for the facilities. At least, a good idea of what they’ll be like. UT has been planning for a medical school for six years, and both the UT System and Seton have committed millions to build the school and hospital, respectively. The medical school will consist of two buildings: one classroom and administration building and one research building. The medical campus will be built in proximity to the teaching hospital, near the existing UMC Brackinridge. You can see the general area in the map below.
  4. But there’s still a legal challenge. With Central Health’s eligibility for a Medicaid 1115 waiver, the district could receive 146 percent federal matching funds to all revenue raised through Prop 1. With the waiver in place, the coordinated plan for the medical school, hospital, and local clinics is well on its way to reality. The only obstacle left is a legal challenge brought by the Travis County Taxpayers Union, a group opposed to the revenue increase from property taxes. The TCTU and their treasurer, Don Zimmerman, allege that the language used on the ballot favors Prop 1 and violates the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The case with is headed to a federal court hearing on Nov. 14.

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Creative Commons photo from Sean McMenemy on Flickr.


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