Fighter (n.) One who works tirelessly for a goal or objective.
Born in McAllen, Texas in Hidalgo County, Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa is the eldest of eight children. He attended Mission ISD schools as a child and worked as a farm worker during his teen years. He led the Mission Eagles football team as their quarterback, and after graduating, Hinojosa volunteered to serve in the U.S. Marine Corps.
In Vietnam, Hinojosa served as a squad leader from 1966 to 1968 before returning home to continue his education. Hinojosa graduated with honors from the University of Texas-Pan American with a bachelor’s degree in political science. He completed his legal studies at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
After returning to South Texas, Hinojosa served as staff attorney for the Legal Aid Society of Nueces County and later as an Assistant Attorney General for the Texas Attorney General. In 1980, Hinojosa began his own private practice in McAllen, where he continues to represent clients in both civil and criminal matters.
Hinojosa was first elected into office in 1981, serving in the Texas House until 1990 and again from 1997 to 2002. During his tenure in the Texas House, Hinojosa passed landmark legislation, including the establishment of the Regional Academic Health Center (RAHC) which promotes physician training on the Texas/Mexico Border. As Chairman of the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, Senator Hinojosa sponsored the Texas Fair Defense Act, to reform procedures for providing court-appointed counsel to indigent defendants and to prohibit capital punishment for defendants with mental illness. He also carried DNA legislation that established procedures for DNA testing, use and preservation that has resulted in freeing many wrongly convicted citizens.
Since his election to the Texas Senate in 2002, Senator Hinojosa has secured more than $100 million for new construction at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi including funding for the Life Sciences Research & Engineering Program building. Senator Hinojosa also worked with A&M Corpus Christi leadership and community leaders to secure the first $2 million in state funds for the mechanical engineering program in 2009 and then the electrical engineering program in 2015. Since then, as vice chair of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Hinojosa has led the effort to secure $26 million for engineering programs at Texas A&M Corpus Christi. He has also secured $21 million since 2015 for the Unmanned Aircraft Systems program in Corpus Christi. Senator Hinojosa’s efforts have brought billions in funding to support the economic growth of Senate District 20, composed of Brooks, Hidalgo, Jim Wells, and Nueces Counties.
During the 2013 Legislative Session, Senator Hinojosa authored SB 24, historic legislation that created the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley by merging UT-Pan American and UT-Brownsville and created a free standing medical school in South Texas. The expansion of educational opportunities has created greater access to healthcare and has been a tremendous boost to the South Texas economy. There will be more jobs, lower poverty levels, higher educational levels, more healthcare services, and more resources to serve the unique and critical needs of the people of South Texas for decades to come. The vision of a new university and a medical school united the Rio Grande Valley community proving that a dream can indeed be transformed into a reality.
Senator Hinojosa also secured critical funding for the $1 billion Corpus Christi Harbor Bridge Replacement project and passed key legislation to allow South Texas communities and hospitals to draw down millions of federal matching funds to expand and invest in their healthcare infrastructure and to reimburse hospitals for indigent care through the federal 1115 Healthcare Transformation Waiver.
As Vice Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Hinojosa has been able to put South Texas at the forefront of critical discussions and secure funding that will help stimulate our local economies. In the 2019 Legislative Session, Senator Hinojosa worked with the South Texas legislative delegation to pass legislation and secure funding for the Coastal Bend and the Rio Grande Valley’s priorities.
A priority this session for our Coastal delegation was addressing issues with the Texas Windstorm Association (TWIA). Senator Hinojosa was proud to join Senator Larry Taylor as co-sponsor of House Bill 1900, which is now law. This bill is a big step in slowing down the insurance premium rate increases burdening our coastal businesses and homeowners.
Senator Hinojosa was also able to help secure funding for a number of Coastal Bend entities. Texas A&M Corpus Christi will receive $139 million from the state which is an increase of $8.4 million from the previous session. This includes $2.3 million in first time funding for a much needed civil and industrial engineering program. This will address an increase in need for engineering graduates driven by recent $50 billion industry investment and the state funds will be matched by an additional $2 million in local Type A funds from the City of Corpus Christi.
Our delegation also secured $10.2 million for the Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas to assist in continued recovery efforts from damage caused by Harvey; $500,000 for the Texas State Aquarium to consolidate and enhance the Wildlife Rescue Program; an increase of $1.2 million in state funds for Del Mar College; $9.1 million for Healthy South Texas headquartered in Corpus Christi; and, $30 million for Defense Economic Adjustment Assistance (DEAAG) Grants.
Additionally, Senator Hinojosa was able to help obtain appropriations for a number of the Valley’s priorities. The UTRGV School of Medicine will receive $69 million from the state which is an increase of $12 million from the previous session. This includes $2 million in first time funding for the Cervical Dysplasia Cancer Immunology Center. According to John Krouse, Dean of the School of Medicine, “Cervical cancer in women occurs more frequently in the Valley and when it occurs the mortality rate is much higher in the Valley.”
Our delegation also secured $5 million for the South Texas International Airport in Edinburg to expand an airport hangar for emergency and first responders; $1 million in grants for border zone fire departments; $500,000 for the Texas Transnational Intelligence Center in McAllen, $5 million for the Wellness Center & Multi-Specialty Facility in the City of Pharr; $100,000 for the St. Anthony’s Cemetery in Peñitas; an increase of $3.9 million for South Texas College as well as making the Center for Public Safety Excellence eligible for operations funding from the Governor’s Border Security Grants; $500,000 for the Women’s Institute for Technology Employment Training Center; up to $10 million for the Raymondville Drain project; and $1.9 million for library services for certain border cities.
The South Texas delegation was especially proud to secure $17 million to strengthen trauma system infrastructure. There are many great hospitals in the region, but currently there is not a Level 1 trauma facility south of San Antonio. Senator Hinojosa is pleased that at least $6 million of the trauma funds will go towards ensuring that South Texas has a life-saving Level 1 trauma center in the near future.
Lastly, with the passage of HB 3, the minimum per-student amount the state uses to fund schools will increase from $5,180 per student to $6,160. According to estimates provided by the Legislative Budget Board, Senate District 20 area school districts will see an increase in funding of over $182 million.
During his more than 20 years as an elected representative of South Texas, Senator Hinojosa has received a number of awards for his public service. He was recently named “Top Ten Best Legislators” for 2013 by Texas Monthly magazine, making it his third time to receive the prestigious honor. He was also named “Top Ten Legislator for 2013” by Capitol Inside for the third time as well.
He has received the prestigious John Henry Faulk Award, presented by the American Civil Liberties Union,and has also been a co-recipient of the James Madison Award given by the Freedom of Information Foundation for lawmakers who demonstrate outstanding commitment and service in upholding the principles of the First Amendment. Senator Hinojosa is also the proud recipient of the 2015 “University of Texas Pan American Presidential Pillar Award” in recognition and appreciation in the creation of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and Medical School.