January 25, 2017

Plano's Collective Voice - Join the City of Plano, Plano Chamber of Commerce, and Plano ISD in Austin for two days of quality programming from February 15-16, 2017. Hotel rooms are still available, but book early before the special rate has ended! CLICK HERE for more information.

Info Session 1 - Learn more about the budget that the 85th Legislative Session is required to pass from Jim Pitts, former Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. CLICK HERE for details or visit mckinneychamber.com/ccdays to register.

Info Session 2 - Join Collin County chambers of commerce, city officials, business professionals, and community leaders for the second info session featuring a Workplace Development discussion. The panel will include input from local corporations, school districts, representatives, and more. CLICK HERE for details or visit mckinneychamber.com/ccdays to register.

Collin County Days in Austin
- Network with Collin County community and business leaders during two days of speakers, meetings, and meals in Austin from March 28-29, 2017. The second block of hotel rooms are still available at the Embassy Suites. CLICK HERE for more information and for the link to register via the McKinney Chamber's event page.
  • Senate Finance Committee will meet January 24-26 at 9:00 a.m. in the Senate Finance Committee Room to take up institutions in Article III (Education). If necessary, the committee will also meet on Friday, January 27.
CLICK HERE to view the full list of bills the Plano Chamber is tracking.   

Last week was a short week for the Texas House and Senate due to the Martin Luther King, Jr. state holiday on Monday and Senate leadership traveling to Washington, D.C. for the Presidential inauguration festivities starting on Wednesday. Senator Kel Seliger presided on Wednesday as President Pro Tempore and became acting governor while both Governor Greg Abbott and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick were out of state.
The House was in session briefly last Tuesday and Wednesday conducting routine business.

Lt. Governor Dan Patrick announced Senate Committee assignments last Wednesday. Senate Committee chairs are listed below with their full list of members found HERE.  
  • Administration: Lois Kolkorst (R-Brenham)
  • Agriculture, Water, & Rural Affairs: Charles Perry (R-Lubbock)
  • Business & Commerce: Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills)
  • Criminal Justice: John Whitmire (D-Houston)
  • Education: Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood)
  • Finance: Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound)
  • Health & Human Services: Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown)
  • Higher Education: Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo)
  • Intergovernmental Relations: Eddie Lucio, Jr. (D-Brownsville)
  • Natural Resources & Economic Development: Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls)
  • Nominations: Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury)
  • State Affairs: Joan Huffman (R-Houston)
  • Transportation: Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville)
  • Veteran Affairs & Military Installations: Donna Campbell (R-San Antonio)
  • Number of Committees: The number of Senate committees remains at 14.
  • Republican Committee Chairs: In 2015, and again for 2017, Republicans chair(ed) 12 of the 14 committees.
  • Democratic Committee Chairs: The two Democrats who chaired Senate committees in 2015 stayed the same in 2017.
Rep. Tan Parker of Flower Mound was re-elected by his Republican colleagues to serve as the Chairman of the   Texas House Republican Caucus for the two-year duration of the 85th Legislature. Other caucus officers include Representatives Cindy Burkett of Sunnyvale, Vice Chair; John Raney of College Station, Secretary; and Dan Huberty of Humble, Treasurer. CLICK HERE to read Rep. Parker's full remarks. 
Texas House and Senate leaders unveiled dueling budget proposals - starting nearly $8 billion apart - in separate moves on Tuesday, January 17 that foreshadowed remarkably different priorities in the two chambers during a legislative session. CLICK HERE to read The Texas Tribune's coverage.

Senator Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) filed SB 1, the Senate's base budget, establishing the Senate's funding priorities for the next 2 years. CLICK HERE to read the summary and priorities for SB 1.  

House Speaker Joe Straus announced the House budget, which will be HB 1, but has not yet been officially filed. It will be filed by the Chair of the House Appropriations Committee after committee assignments are announced in the House.  
Based on Legislative Budget Board summaries, the Senate and House budget proposals reflect different priorities but also have several recommendations that are the same. Below is a comparison by major funding area.
  • Foundation School Program: The Senate budget includes $34.1 billion in General Revenue Funds (GR) and $42.4 billion in All Funds. The House budget provides $35.6 billion in GR and $43.9 billion in All Funds.
    • Both bills provide a $1.5 billion (3.5%) increase in Other Funds. The House bill also provides an increase of $1.5 billion in funding for the Foundation School Program (FSP) over the amount estimated to be required to fund the current law.
  • Medicaid: The Senate bill provides $61.2 billion in All Funds, including $24.9 billion in GR. The House bill includes $65.1 billion in All Funds, $26.8 billion of which is GR.
  • Transportation: Senate and House bills provide the same amount of funding for transportation, which is $28.2 billion in All Funds, including $5 billion from anticipated state sales tax deposits to the State Highway Fund (SHF), $2.2 billion in funding from oil and natural gas tax-related transfers to the SHF, and all available SHF from traditional transportation tax and fee revenue sources. 
    • Both bills include $24.7 billion in All Funds for highway planning and design, right-of-way acquisition, construction and maintenance; and $2.3 billion in All Funds for debt service and other financing costs. 
  • Behavioral Health: The Senate bill includes $3.4 billion in All Funds including $2.7 billion in GR/GR-Dedicated for non-Medicaid behavioral health services. The House bill includes $3.5 billion in All Funds including $2.8 billion in GR/GR-Dedicated for non-Medicaid behavioral health services.
    • Both bills include $95.6 million in All Funds, $62.6 billion of which are GR to address current and projected wait-lists for community mental health services for adults and children.
  • Child Protective Services: Both bills provide $3.2 billion in All Funds, including $1.9 billion in GR for Child Protective Services functions at the Dept. of Family & Protective Services, an increase of $260.1 million in All Funds and $310.6 million in GR over the 2016-17 base. 
  • Higher Education: Senate bill represents a decrease of $74.1 million in GR and increase of $144.4 million in GR-dedicated (statutory tuition). House bill represents a decrease of $33.5 million in GR and an increase of $145.7 million in GR-dedicated. House bill maintains current formula funding and adds funding for two new medical schools. Senate bill maintains current formula funding for all except the Graduate Medical Education formula. It decreases special items funding by $800 million, but provides $20 million for two behavioral health special items at the UT Health Science Centers at Houston and Tyler.
    • Both bills provide higher education formula support of $7.2 billion in GR and $1.5 billion in GR-dedicated.
  • Adult Incarceration: Senate bill provides $6.7 billion in All Funds, including $6.6 billion in GR/GR-Dedicated for the incarceration, probation, and parole of adult offenders in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice - a decrease of $89.7 million including a $60 million decrease for deferred maintenance, a $10 million decrease for video surveillance cameras, and a $13.1 million decrease for the closure of an Intermediate Sanction Facility. House bill provides $6.8 billion in All Funds, including $6.6 billion in GR/GR-Dedicated, a decrease of $49.7 million including a $20 million decrease for deferred maintenance. It includes the same decreases as the Senate for video surveillance cameras and an Intermediate Sanction Facility.
  • Border Security: The Senate bill provides $800 million in state funds for border security including $732.6 million to the Department of Public Safety (DPS), $490.4 million of which is for the Secure Texas line item. The House bill provides $663.2 million in state funds for border security including $595.8 million, $353.7 million of which is for the Secure Texas line item. Both bills provide $242.2 million to fund other border security functions in the DPS budget.
  • Teacher Retirement & Health Benefits: Both bills provide $1 billion in All Funds for the state contribution to retirement benefits of the Teacher Retirement System. The funding reflects a state contribution rate of 6.8% of employee payroll in each year of the biennium. It assumes an annual payroll growth rate of 3.5% for public education and 2.9% for higher education in each fiscal year. Retiree health insurance funding includes $747.6 million in GR, which provides a statutorily required state contribution to TRS-Care of 1% of public education payroll. Neither bill addresses the $1.3 billion shortfall in TRS-Care.
  • State Employee Retirement Benefits: The Senate bill has $1.3 billion in All Funds including $980.2 million in GR/GR-Dedicated for the state contribution to the Employees Retirement System retirement program. That reflects an increase of $30.5 million in All Funds, $32.2 million in GR/GR-Dedicated. The House bill provides $1.3 billion in All Funds including $976.7 million in GR/GR-Dedicated, which reflects an increase of $27 million in All Funds and $28.8 million in GR/GR-Dedicated.
    • Both bills provide for a 9.5 percent state contribution rate.
  • Debt Service: Both bills fully fund debt service for a total of $4.3 billion in All Funds, a decrease of $280.1 million or 6.1% from the current biennium.
  • Across-the-Board Reduction: The Senate bill contains a 1.5% across-the-board reduction in all GR appropriations with the exception of the Foundation School Program. There is no equivalent provision in the House bill.
  • Economic Stabilization Fund: Neither bill includes an appropriation from the Economic Stabilization Fund, which is estimated to be $11.9 billion at the end of the 2019 Fiscal Year.
  • All Funds: The Senate bill contains $213.37 billion in All Funds and $103.6 billion in GR/GR-Dedicated Funds - a $3.25 billion (3%) decrease from the current biennium. The House bill contains $221.33 billion in All Funds and $108.86 billion in GR/GR-Dedicated - a $822.1 million (0.8%) increase over the current biennium.
    • Last week, Comptroller Glenn Hegar estimated the state will have $104.9 billion in available GR/GR-Dedicated funds available for spending in the upcoming biennium. The Senate bill is $1.3 billion below the Comptroller's biennial revenue estimate (BRE) while the House bill is almost $4 billion above the BRE.
On January 18, Senator Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls), Chairman of the Senate Natural Resources and Economic Development Committee filed SB 26, which would renew and expand the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP). TERP is the State's program for lowering tropospheric ozone emissions to bring Texas into compliance with the national ambient air quality standards issued by the EPA under the federal Clean Air Act.

Sen. Seliger, Chairman of the Senate Higher Education Committee filed SB 18 and SB 19, which would "address the rising cost of tuition that outpaces what many Texas families can afford." Chairman Seliger also filed SB 543, which would implement Performance Based Tuition, which requires institutions to meet certain performance metrics prior to increasing tuition.

On January 13, Rep. Chris Turner (D-Grand Prairie) announced legislation aimed at increasing the minimum wage with House and Senate colleagues as well as representatives from the Texas FL-CIO. Turner filed HB 924 and the accompanying HJR 56, which would give Texas voters the right to decide whether or not to raise the state's minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. Senator Jose Menendez (D-San Antonio) has filed the companion bills: SB 229/SJR 22.

Also on January 13, Rep. Justin Rodriguez filed HB 954, which would allow counties and municipalities to establish a local minimum wage greater than the current federal minimum of $7.25. Senator Jose Rodriguez has filed the companion bill,  SB 427.      

On January 18, Senator Van Taylor filed SB 515, the Right of Access Act, which is designed to ensure that elected or appointed officers of a state governmental body, county, city, or special district the right to access all information and property relating to the governmental body they serve.

State Contracting Oversight - Senator Nelson filed SB 533, which would strengthen oversight of state contracting to "ensure that state business with the private sector remains transparent, accountable, and competitive by giving legislative leaders more oversight of major information."

Individual Graduation Committees - On January 13, Sen. Seliger filed SB 463, which allows for the continued use of Individual Graduation Committees. SB 463 gives students who fail one or two STAAR exams, but otherwise meet all other graduation requirements, a path to graduation.

Teaching Best Practices - On January 18, Commissioner of Education Mike Morath announced the official launch of #IAmTXEd, a new social media campaign intended to share the ongoing success stories of Texas teachers in the classroom. #IAmTXEd collects and shares the stories of Texas educators whose work is leading to greater student outcomes and achievements. CLICK HERE to read more.

Reattachment of Detached School District Property - On January 16, Rep. Jim Murphy filed HB 1059, relating to the reattachment of property detached from a school district by the Texas Commissioner of Education. Currently Texas school districts choose to either pay their scheduled recapture funds or have the TEA "detach" property (and its associated tax revenue).

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