Senator Hinojosa recognizes that small businesses are what fuels Texas’ economic engine, as they employ one out of every two Texans. As Vice Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Hinojosa has put small businesses at the forefront of Texas’ economic future. In the 2019 legislative session, as Vice Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Hinojosa was instrumental in securing $16 million to the Jobs and Education for Texans Program (JET) fund for the development of career and technical education programs at 10 public junior colleges, public technical institutes, and ISDs.


In addition to supporting small business funding, Senator Hinojosa has advocated for numerous pieces of legislation benefiting small businesses:

  • Passed SB 1748 (85R) help reduce unemployment and increase Texas’ pool of skilled laborers by allowing for economic development corporations (EDCs) of Hidalgo County to use tax revenues for skills training programs;
  • Authored SB 154 (85R) which led to a pilot program administered by the Texas Workforce Commission called the “Workforce Career & Technical Education Outreach Specialist Pilot Program.” The program places local Workforce Career Specialists in area middle and high schools (grades 6-12) to provide career guidance and workforce information to students. The mission is to ensure students get the exposure and awareness to career resources today that empower them to gain degree certifications, graduate with marketable skills, and minimize student debt in the future;
  • Voted for HB 32 (84R) which permanently reduced the primary Franchise tax rates from 1.0 to 0.75 percent and from 0.5 to 0.375 percent of taxable margin (for entities engaged in retail or wholesale trade);
  • Authored SB 100 (84R) to allow small businesses to participate in the Texas Enterprise Zone Program (TEZ), one of Texas’ most successful economic development programs. The program provides sales-tax refunds and credits to businesses that create jobs and invest in economically distressed communities;
  • Authored SB 1351 (84R) to transfer the administration of the JET program to the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) in an effort to bolster the TWC’s capacity-building mission and better prepare out-of-work Texans for jobs;
  • Passed HB 3714 (83R) to create the Office of Small Business Assistance Advisory Task Force to identify barriers that hurt Texas job creators and to propose measures to improve small business creation in Texas;
  • Voted for HB 4765 (81R) which the total revenue amount at which a small business would ow no Franchise tax to $1 million from $300,000. This legislation nearly tripled the franchise tax exception for small businesses;
  • Passed HB 3519 (81R) allowed the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) and Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) to coordinate and administer the Texas Career Opportunity Grant Program. The purpose of this program is to help ensure a qualified workforce to meet the needs of this state by reducing financial barriers to postsecondary career education and training for economically disadvantaged Texans by providing grants to eligible students attending an eligible career school or college; and
  • Authored HB 1125 (68R) (the Texas Enterprise Zone Act) which created the Texas Enterprise Zone Program that stimulates statewide investment.


As the demand increases for middle-skilled jobs that require more than a high school diploma, Senator Hinojosa recognizes that community colleges fill a critical role in the effort to prepare Texans with the work skills they need to compete for higher paying jobs. Career Technical Education (CTE) can also provide those skills needed for those jobs through career postsecondary programs, employer-based training, and industry-based certifications. To this end, Senator Hinojosa has passed numerous pieces of legislation and, as Vice Chair of the Senator Finance Committee, helped secure significant funding for community colleges.

In the most recent legislative session in 2019, Senator Hinojosa successfully advocated for $33 million for Del Mar Community College, $84 million for South Texas College, and $4.6 million for Texas Innovative Adult Career Education Grant Program during the 2020-2021 Biennium.

In prior legislative sessions, Senator Hinojosa has fought for significant victories for community colleges, such as:

  • Supported the legislation to create the ‘Texas Innovative Adult Career Education Grant Fund’ (ACE Fund) and, as Vice Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, secured $5 million for the new ACE Fund to invest in high-skill training to fill high-demand, high-wage jobs in Texas;
  • Secured $4 million in community college scholarships;
  • Helped pass legislation that allows South Texas College to offer a bachelor’s degree program in applied technology;
  • Expanded legislation that teams up community colleges in South Texas with local high schools on dropout recovery programs;
  • Supported legislation that allocated $154 million for community college health insurance costs;
  • Passed HCR 82 creating a joint interim committee to study education policy as it relates to developing a skilled workforce and to explore topics like curriculum requirements, opportunities for new education-workforce partnerships, and the impact of emerging industrial sectors;
  • Secured millions of dollars for the Jobs and Education for Texans (JET) Program, designed to help put Texans back in the workforce; and
  • Sponsored HB 2169 (81R) establishing additional job incentive programs that use the skills development fund as an incentive to lure new businesses to Texas. By distributing money to prospective employers in return for the commitment to establishing a place of business in Texas, to provide workforce training in an effort to create and retain employment opportunities in Texas.

Senator Hinojosa also passed the legislation that established a center for public safety training in the Rio Grande Valley to provide specialized training and continuing education that law enforcement personnel locally. South Texas College administers the regional center in partnership with political subdivisions and participating school districts in the Rio Grande Valley. The training provided at the regional center provides officers with college credit toward either an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree.


It is estimated that over 2 million jobs are being created in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. To help meet that need in our region, Senator Hinojosa worked with A&M Corpus Christi and community leaders to secure the first $2 million in state funds for mechanical engineering in 2009 then electrical engineering in 2015. Since then, Senator Hinojosa has secured a total of $26 million for engineering at A&M Corpus Christi.

The mechanical engineering program specializes in teaching engineering as it relates to the Gulf of Mexico, including offshore platforms and offshore mapping. The engineering program has been extremely successful and is critical to the growth of the region. Engineers will be available for area industries and will enhance local economies. During the 2017 session, Senator Hinojosa secured $4.2 million to support engineering programs, including mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and the STEM pipeline initiative. This past session, Senator Hinojosa secured $2.3 million in new funding to establish the Civil & Industrial Engineering Program.

In addition to the funding for the engineering program, in 2019 Senator Hinojosa helped secure significant funding for Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. For the 2020-2021 Biennium this included:

  • $139.4 million for Texas A&M-Corpus Christi ($8.4 million increase from 2018-19 Budget);
  • $4.2 million for Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Engineering Program; and
  • $2.3 million in new funding to establish the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Civil and Industrial Engineering Program.
  • $7 million for the Unmanned Aircraft Systems for a total of $21 million since 2015.


Education is the ticket to our children’s future. With more education comes more opportunities to compete for higher paying jobs. But as our school populations are exploding, and college tuition keeps rising, we cannot balance the budget on the backs of Texas schoolchildren. During the 2019 Legislative Session, Senator Hinojosa voted for House Bill (HB) 3, a sweeping and historic school finance bill that greatly increases the state’s investment in our students and teachers.

The highlights of HB3 include:

  • An increase in the state’s portion of education funding from 38% to 45%, reducing the burden on local property taxes;
  • $6.5 billion statewide for transformational education reform;
  • Educator pay raises, including an increase in the minimum salary and a new Teacher Incentive Allotment that provides between $3,000 – $32,000 per year, per high-performing teacher, with higher incentive funding going to high poverty and rural campuses;
    • The prioritization of Early Literacy, which requires elementary school teachers to attend the reading academies and be trained on the science of teaching reading;
  • Increased access to Full-Day Pre-Kindergarten for all eligible 4-year-old children, with funding through an Early Education Allotment;
  • Improving College, Career, and Military Readiness by increasing funding for college prep exams, industry certification exams, career and technical education (CTE) including computer science, and funds innovative high school models designed to help students graduate with an associate’s degree; and
  • More equitable funding with increased funding for low-income students in the highest poverty areas.

Throughout his time in the Texas Legislature, Senator Hinojosa has championed education. He co-authored Senate Bill 22 in the 85th Legislative Session which established a work-based, dual-credit education program designed to make more tech-related college courses available to high school students around the state. Through the P-TECH (Pathways to Technology Early College High School) Program, partnerships between high schools, community colleges, and industry enable students to obtain both a high school diploma and associate’s degree or certification in six years. He also sponsored House Bill 728 which created a program to allow computer science courses to count toward a student’s required advanced math or advanced science credit, encouraging students to develop valuable skills that would expand opportunities after high school.

Previously, Senator Hinojosa has supported legislation to reform public school education by reducing the number of high-stakes tests from 15 to 5 that students must take to graduate and changes the courses needed to earn a diploma. He believes that students should focus on learning in the classroom and teachers should not have to just teach to the test.

Senator Hinojosa supports Career Technical Education (CTE) because the workforce has great demand for “middle jobs” that require no bachelor’s degree but necessitate training beyond high school. CTE provides those skills needed for those jobs through employer-based training and industry-based certifications. Similarly, Senator Hinojosa passed legislation to create a joint interim committee to study education policy as it relates to developing a skilled workforce and to explore topics like curriculum requirements, opportunities for new education-workforce partnerships and the impact of emerging industrial sectors.

As Vice Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Hinojosa has worked across party lines to protect teacher jobs and keep a college education within reach of working families.

During the most recent legislative session, Senator Hinojosa helped craft a budget which increases public education grants for the 2020-2021 Biennium. This includes:

  • $61 million for Communities in Schools ($22.2 million difference from 2018-19 Budget);
  • $11 million for Teach for America; and
  • $4.5 million for Texas Academic Innovation and Mentoring (AIM).

Further, Senator Hinojosa has consistently supported financial aid. In 2019, he helped secure $866 million in financial aid for the TEXAS Grant program to ensure 70% of eligible students receive a $5,000 award for 2020-2021 biennium ($80 million increase from 2018-2019 biennium). In 2015, Senator Hinojosa helped secure $786 million in financial aid for the TEXAS Grant program to serve 92% of all eligible residents ($71 million increase from 2014-2015 biennium). In 2013, he helped restore $724.6 million in funding for college financial aid through Texas Grants for 2014-2015 biennium, an increase of $145 million from the prior budget.


Senator Hinojosa championed historic legislation with the passage of Senate Bill (SB) 24 which created the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV), a top-tier university and medical school, and the second largest Hispanicserving institution in the nation.

SB 24 authorized the merger of UT-Pan American and UT-Brownsville and the creation of a freestanding medical school. The expansion of educational opportunities has created greater access to healthcare, spurred significant economic development, and boosted our quality of life in South Texas. UTRGV and the accompanying School of Medicine (SOM) have created thousands of jobs, improved higher educational levels, increased access to healthcare services, and brought much needed resources to our region. Perhaps most importantly for the new university, for the first time, UTRGV is eligible to receive millions of dollars from the Permanent University Fund, a major source of public higher education money that the Texas Constitution only allows “eligible” UT System schools to use.

UTRGV has an extensive presence in the Valley with campuses in Edinburg, Brownsville, Harlingen, McAllen, Starr County, and South Padre Island. Similarly, the UTRGV School of Medicine has campuses in Edinburg, Harlingen and Brownsville, and clinics throughout the Valley. These facilities have brought high-paying jobs, first-rate educational opportunities and access to health care to thousands of RGV residents. Further, UTRGV and the SOM have spurred economic development in the region with the continuing development of facilities, workforce training, and significant state investment.

The SOM already received $70 million in PUF monies for a new Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) building which opened in 2018, and another $30 million for the Institute of Neuroscience building that will open soon.


As Vice Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Hinojosa was instrumental in securing funding for UTRGV and the School of Medicine for the 2020-2021 Biennium. This includes:

  • $266.2 million for UTRGV General Academics ($9.8 million difference from 2018-19 Budget);
  • $68.9 million for UTRGV School of Medicine ($12.3 million difference from 2018-19 Budget);
  • $2.7 million Cervical Dysplasia Cancer Immunology Center; and
  • A portion of the $157.2 million allocated for GME Expansion for graduate medical education to maintain a 1.1 to 1 ratio for residency slots ($60.2 million difference from 2018-19 Budget).


Our lawmakers have a responsibility to save taxpayers’ money by making government more efficient and to ensure the proper oversight of governmental entities. As a recent member of the Sunset Advisory Commission and the Vice Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Hinojosa has long demanded accountability and fiscal efficiency within state government.

  • Passed legislation in the 2019 Session to increase transparency and eliminate conflicts of interest at a local special utility district.
  • Senator Hinojosa sponsored a government transparency bill that prevents governments from paying for public events, such as concerts, with public funds and keeping that information private.
  • During the 84th and 85th Legislative Sessions, Senator Hinojosa served on the Sunset Commission which is responsible for carrying sunset legislation and thoroughly analyzing the practices and procedures of those government agencies under review. Through this appointment, Senator Hinojosa was able to work to decrease government inefficiencies, increase transparency and ensure that our taxpayer dollars are being spent appropriately.
  • The changes enacted during the 84th session resulted in more than $34 million in savings and revenue gains over the following two years by eliminating waste, duplication, and inefficiency in state government. During the 85th session, the changes enacted resulted in saving $5.8 million over the following 5 years.
  • In 2015, Senator Hinojosa passed the Office of Inspector General (OIG) Sunset bill to provide due process, increase transparency, and target actual fraud while not wasting our resources on innocent providers. The legislation (SB 207) restructured the OIG so that it targets the healthcare providers who are defrauding our taxpayers and not those who commit clerical errors.
  • Senator Hinojosa previously served on the Sunset Commission from 2008 through 2011 and carried sunset legislation for high profile agencies such as TxDOT, DPS, and the Texas Water Development Board.


Thanks to efforts of Senator Hinojosa and his colleagues, Nueces County families can no longer be slapped with excessive surcharges in the aftermath of a hurricane. In the 2009 Legislative Session, Senator Hinojosa led the negotiations to pass comprehensive Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) reform legislation. While the new law may have been far from perfect, it took major strides forward in protecting Nueces County homeowners. Since 2009, Senator Hinojosa has supported legislation to reform TWIA by changing the funding structure, board composition, legal processes, and administrative and claims processes. Senator Hinojosa has consistently opposed rules that would increase premium surcharges or create ambiguity and uncertainty for the Texas Coast.

Senator Hinojosa continues to work with TWIA and our Coastal Bend communities to ensure fair and affordable access to windstorm insurance coverage. Just last year, Senator Hinojosa supported and co-sponsored legislation that will address rate adequacy transparency and legislation that requires two interim legislative committees to inspect and review the current funding structure. This resulted in the creation of the Windstorm Insurance Legislative Funding and Funding Structure Oversight Board, to which Senator Hinojosa was appointed by the Lieutenant Governor. The board is charged with gathering information regarding how the association’s current funding and funding structure operate and how the catastrophic risk pools of other states operate.


Senator Hinojosa has led the effort to properly equip the Department of Public Safety to combat drug traffickers and help ease the financial burdens that have been unfairly placed on border communities. Senator Hinojosa understands the importance of giving law enforcement the tools they need to keep our families safe and strengthen border security without harming the business and cultural relations with Mexico that allow our region to be one of the most dynamic in the nation. As Vice Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Hinojosa has a significant impact on the state budget writing process and ensures that critical discussions focus on the needs of our border communities and our law enforcement. Senator Hinojosa secured $10.2 million in grants for local border security and added language to the budget that made the South Texas College Center for Public Safety Excellence eligible for grant funds.

Another priority for Senator Hinojosa is ensuring that law enforcement and prosecutors have the resources they need to eliminate human trafficking. In the most recent legislative session, Senator Hinojosa helped secure $15,126,000 for Border Security Operations – Border Prosecution Grants and funding for Anti-Gang Centers. Senator Hinojosa previously voted for legislation that increased penalties for human trafficking, increased victim identification and services, and expanded the duties of the Human Trafficking Task Force. Senator Hinojosa also secured $1.2 million for 6 additional agents for the Special Investigations Unit at the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) to enhance its efforts to fight human trafficking. With the additional resources, TABC ramped up its investigative and enforcement efforts to combat human trafficking along the border.  Additionally, Senator Hinojosa supported legislation that created the Texas Transnational Intelligence Center (TTIC), a multiagency crime information center in the Rio Grande Valley that is operated by local law enforcement and DPS. The Texas Transnational Intelligence Center is key for the Rio Grande Valley in protecting our border and Senator Hinojosa continues to secure funding to support its operations.


As Vice Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Hinojosa secured increased funding for Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, including first time funding for the new civil and industrial engineering program. Similarly, Senator Hinojosa obtained additional funds for Del Mar Community College. These investments in higher education will ensure our region has the skills and training necessary to keep building our economy.

As a member of both the Transportation and Texas Ports Select Committees, Senator Hinojosa is aware of the importance of upgrading infrastructure to continue our economic growth. He secured critical funding for the new Harbor Bridge project and he continues to work closely with all stakeholders to ensure its progress. When complete, the new Harbor Bridge will boost the economy by allowing for larger ships in the harbor, as well as improved ground transportation. Senator Hinojosa has also fought to secure port infrastructure funding to improve the movement of goods in and out of the ports. Further, he was instrumental in restoring air quality monitoring funds necessary to help ensure our port industries remain compliant.

Senator Hinojosa continues to help our region’s tourism industry by passing legislation to allow Corpus Christi to access the state’s Hotel Occupancy Tax for beach cleanup and obtaining funding for the Texas State Aquarium.

As Vice Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Hinojosa has secured funding for the DEAAG program. Since 2015, the three installations in the region have received $7 million from the program. This funding is critical to Corpus Christi which is home to the Corpus Christi Army Depot, the world’s largest military helicopter repair facility that accounts for over 6,000 jobs in the Coastal Bend and is also home to NAS Corpus Christi.

Like much of the Gulf Coast region, the Coastal Bend was greatly impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Senator Hinojosa worked to craft legislation that will help our state recover from this historic storm, including $3.5 billion in state funds. These funds will be used for a wide variety of purposes that will benefit the Coastal Bend, ranging from coastal protections to repairs at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute.