DON'T MISS IT
Join the Plano Chamber of Commerce for our monthly Public Policy Committee meeting. This committee discusses legislation and issues that affect the business community. Attended by business professionals, elected officials, and key community representatives, these meetings are open to all members in good standing.
for more details.
MUNICIPAL RUN-OFF ELECTION
Don't store your Voter Registration card yet! Early Voting for the Run-Off Election for Plano City Council Place 2 and Place 8 began today, May 30. Early Voting will be held from May 30 - June 6 and Election Day is Saturday, June 10.
for a list of Early Voting locations.
The Texas legislature adjourned Sine Die shortly after noon on Monday, May 29. The last week of the session was filled with press conferences and statements issued by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Joe Straus challenging the other chamber for not addressing important priorities. Lt. Gov. Patrick said the House needed to pass his two priorities - the women's privacy or "bathroom" bill (SB 6) and property tax reform (SB 2). Speaker Straus said the Senate needed to pass public school finance reform (HB 21) and a sunset safety net bill (to extend the life of the Texas Medical Board, specifically), which needed to pass in order to prevent a special session.
The House added an amendment to SB 2078 (a school safety bill by Senator Larry Taylor) in an attempt to address the bathroom issue. The House also amended its version of property tax reform onto SB 669 (Senator Jane Nelson's property tax appraisal reform bill). The Senate passed its version of school finance reform as a substitute to HB 21, but the Senate also added a version of education savings accounts (private school vouchers) to the bill, an issue the House has repeatedly rejected. Ultimately, no bills passed on property tax reform, birth gender bathrooms, or property tax reform. Lt. Gov. Patrick made good on his threat to kill the sunset safety net bill and force a special session. Gov. Abbott has indicated that he will announce later in the week whether he will call a special session.
to view the full list of bills the Plano Chamber is tracking.
In spite of Senate/House disagreements, many of the session's important issues were addressed. Below is a run-down of the major priority issues for Governor Greg Abbott, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, and Speaker Joe Straus taken up by the 85th Legislature.
GOVERNOR GREG ABBOTT'S PRIORITIES
Governor Abbott designated 4 issues as emergency items including:
REFORMING CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES
- HB 4 by Cindy Burkett and Charles Schwertner provides additional assistance to relative and designated caregiver placement program. The House concurred in Senate amendments so it is headed to the governor;
- HB 5 by James Frank and Charles Schwertner establishes the Dept. of Family & Protective Services as a freestanding agency. The House and Senate adopted the conference committee report and it is on its way to the governor;
- HB 7 by Gene Wu and Carlos Uresti modifies court procedures for child abuse and neglect cases. The House concurred in Senate amendments, so it is going to the governor.
- SB 11by Charles Schwertner and James Frank expands community-based foster care services. The Senate and House adopted the conference committee report and it is heading to the governor.
BANNING SANCTUARY CITIES
by Charles Perry and Charlie Geren eliminates "sanctuary cities." It
has been signed by the Governor and will take effect on Sept. 1, 2017.
IMPLEMENTING MEANINGFUL ETHICS REFORM
- SB 500 by Van Taylor and Charlie Geren prohibits elected officials convicted of a felony from receiving retirement benefits. It has passed and been sent to the governor.
- HB 501 by Giovanni Capriglione and Van Taylor requires elected officials to disclose as part of their personal financial statement contracts for goods or services that they, their spouse, or their dependent child has with a governmental entity. The House and Senate adopted the conference committee report for HB 501 and it is headed to the governor.
- HB 505 by Charlie Geren and Van Taylor prohibits a retired officeholder who is a registered lobbyist from making a political contribution using their campaign account. It has passed and been sent to the governor.
PASSING A RESOLUTION FOR A CONVENTION OF THE STATES
by Brian Birdwell and Phil King outlines the qualifications, duties and limitations of Texas delegates in a convention of the states if/when a convention of the states is called. SJR 2 by Brian Birdwell and Rick Miller proposes a constitutional amendment asking the U.S. Congress to call a convention of the states under Article V of the U.S. Constitution for the limited purpose of proposing one or more amendments to the constitution to impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, to limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and to limit the terms of office of federal officials and members of Congress. SB 21 has passed and been sent to the governor; SJR 2 has passed
and has been filed with the Secretary of State for ballot placement (constitutional amendments do not go to the governor).
SPEAKER JOE STRAUS' PRIORITIES
In his swearing-in speech, House Speaker Joe Straus outlined his priorities. They include:
No specific bills implement this recommendation.
- HB 10 by Four Price and Judith Zaffirini requires treatments for mental health conditions and substance use disorders to be covered by health insurance plans under the same terms and conditions as treatments for physical health conditions. It has been sent to the governor.
- HB 12 by Four Price would make the Jail-Based Competency Pilot Program a permanent program authorizing a defendant deemed incompetent to stand trial for reason of mental illness or intellectual disability to be released on bail to receive outpatient treatment to regain competency for trial. It passed the House but died in the Senate State Affairs Committee.
- HB 13 by Four Price and Charles Schwertner establishes a matching grant program to support community mental health programs for individuals experiencing mental illness. The House concurred in Senate amendments and it is heading to the governor.
HB 21 by Dan Huberty and Larry Taylor amends the public school finance system. It passed the House and Senate but died in conference committee. HB 22 by Dan Huberty reforms the public school accountability system. The House and Senate adopted the conference committee report so it is headed to the governor.
CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES
- HB 4 by Cindy Burkett and Charles Schwertner provides additional assistance to relative and designated caregiver placement program. The House concurred in Senate amendments, so it is headed to the governor.
- HB 5 by James Frank and Charles Schwertner establishes the Dept. of Family & Protective Services as a freestanding agency. The House and Senate adopted the conference committee report, so it is on its way to the governor.
- HB 7 by Gene Wu and Carlos Uresti modifies court procedures for child abuse and neglect cases. The House concurred in Senate amendments, so it is headed to the governor.
- SB 11 by Charles Schwertner and James Frank expands community-based foster care services. The Senate and House adopted the conference committee report on SB 11 so it is on its way to the governor.
HB 8 by Giovanni Capriglione and Jane Nelson makes several changes regarding cybersecurity for state information resources. The House concurred in Senate amendments and it is headed to the governor. HB 9 by Giovanni Capriglione and Van Taylor increases the penalties for cybercrime. The House concurred with Senate amendments and it is on its way to the governor.
LT. GOV. DAN PATRICK'S PRIORITIES
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick outlined
his legislative priorities before the session started. They include:
2017 BUDGET PROPOSAL
SB 1 by Jane Nelson and John Zerwas, is the appropriations bill. The Senate and House have adopted the conference committee report and it is on its way to the governor.
PROPERTY TAX REFORM
SB 2 by Paul Bettencourt and Dennis Bonnen is the omnibus property tax reform bill. SB 2 died in the House Calendars Committee after being knocked off the House Calendar on a point-of-order and sent back to the House Ways & Means Committee. The House version of property tax reform was amended onto SB 669, Senator Jane Nelson's property tax appraisal reform bill, but SB 669 died because the House did not appoint conferees.
SB 3 by Larry Taylor establishes an education savings account program. It passed the Senate but died the House Public Education Committee.
SB 4 by Charles Perry and Charlie Geren eliminates "sanctuary cities." It has been signed by the Governor and will take effect on Sept, 1, 2017.
PHOTO VOTER ID
SB 5 by Joan Huffman and Phil King clarifies voter ID requirements. The Senate and House adopted the conference committee report and is headed to the governor.
WOMEN'S PRIVACY ACT
SB 6 by Lois Kolkhorst requires school districts, political subdivisions, and state agencies to develop policy requiring multiple-occupancy bathrooms or changing facilities to be designated for and used only by persons of the same biological sex. A similar bill, HB 2899 by Ron Simmons prohibits political subdivisions, including school districts, from enforcing an order or ordinance to protect a class of persons from discrimination to the extent that order or ordinance regulates access to multiple-occupancy restrooms, showers, or changing facilities. SB 6 passed the Senate but was never referred to committee in the House. HB 2899 was heard in the House State Affairs Committee and left pending. A House floor amendment was added to SB 2078 (a school safety bill by Sen. Larry Taylor) in an attempt to address the bathroom issue. The amendment requires schools to provide single-stall restrooms, locker rooms and changing facilities to students who do not want to use facilities designated by biological sex. SB 2078 died when the House did not grant the Senate's request for a conference committee.
INAPPROPRIATE TEACHER-STUDENT RELATIONSHIPS
"Pass the Trash" - SB 7 by Paul Bettencourt and Ken King makes several changes to statutes relating to improper teacher-student relationships. It was signed by Gov. Abbott on May 26, and takes effect on Sept. 1, 2017.
FETAL TISSUE/PARTIAL BIRTH ABORTIONS
SB 8 by Charles Schwertner and Cindy Burkett prohibits partial-birth abortions. It has been sent to the governor.
SB 9 by Kelly Hancock would base the Constitutional spending limit on population growth and inflation. It passed the Senate but died in the House Appropriations Committee.
HAILSTORM LAWSUIT REFORM
HB 1774 by Greg Bonnen and Kelly Hancock reforms the hailstorm litigation process. SB 10 passed as the companion to HB 1774. It was signed by the governor on May 26, 2017 and takes effect on Sept. 1, 2017.
DFPS CHILD PROTECTION BILL
SB 11by Charles Schwertner and James Frank expands community-based foster care services. The Senate and House adopted the conference committee report and it is on its way to the governor.
PROTECTIVE VESTS FOR POLICE
SB 12 by Royce West & Phil King provides protective vests for police officers. It was signed by the governor on May 27 and took immediate effect.
SB 13 by Joan Huffman prohibits union dues payroll deductions by state and local government employees. It passed the Senate but died in the House State Affairs Committee. The companion, HB 510 by Sarah Davis was introduced and referred to the House State Affairs Committee on February 22, but did not receive a hearing.
SB 14 by Van Taylor would be the Ethics Reform & Anti-Corruption Act of 2017. It passed the Senate but died in the House General Investigating & Ethics Committee on May 15. The companion, HB 1283 by Charlie Geren was introduced and referred to the House General Investigating & Ethics Committee on March 22, but was not set for a hearing. Note: other Ethics Reform bills that passed are discussed in the Governor's priority bills section above.
FIRST RESPONDER PROPERTY TAX RELIEF
SB 15 by Don Huffines and Pat Fallon and SJR 1 by Donna Campbell and Pat Fallon exempts the homestead of the surviving spouse of a first responder killed or fatally injured in the line of duty. SB 15 has been sent to the governor and SJR 1 has been sent to the Secretary of State for ballot placement (constitutional amendments do not go to the governor).
LICENSE TO CARRY FEE REFORM
SB 16 by Robert Nichols and Phil King reduces the fees for issuance of an original, duplicate, modified, or renewed license to carry a handgun. It was signed by the governor on May 26, 2017 and takes effect on Sept. 1, 2017.
FRANCHISE TAX REDUCTION
SB 17 by Jane Nelson phases out the franchise tax. It passed the Senate but died in the House Ways & Means Committee. A similar bill, HB 28 by Dennis Bonnen passed the House but died in the Senate Finance Committee.
SB 18 by Kel Seliger eliminates the tuition set-aside requirement for institutions of higher education to set aside a portion of tuition payments to be used for tuition assistance for qualified students. It passed the Senate but died in the House Higher Education Committee on May 1, 2017.
SB 19 by Kel Seliger freezes tuition for two years and then institutes performance-based tuition at Texas public higher education institutions. It passed the Senate but died in the House Higher Education Committee.
PROHIBITING ABORTION INSURANCE COVERAGE
SB 20 by Larry Taylor prohibits a health plan from providing coverage for an abortion, except due to a medical emergency unless the enrollee pays separately for the abortion coverage. It passed the Senate but died in the House Calendars Committee. The companion, HB 1113 by John Smithee died in the House State Affairs Committee.
CONVENTION OF STATES
SB 21 by Brian Birdwell and Phil King outlines the qualifications, duties and limitations of Texas delegates in a convention of the states if/when a convention of the states is called. SJR 2 by Brian Birdwell and Rick Miller proposes a constitutional amendment asking the U.S. Congress to call a convention of the states under Article V of the U.S. Constitution for the limited purpose of proposing one or more amendments to the constitution to impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, to limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and to limit the terms of office of federal officials and members of Congress. SB 21 has passed and been sent to the governor; SJR 2 has passed and has been filed with Secretary of State for ballot placement (constitutional amendments do not go to the governor).
PATHWAYS IN TECHNOLOGY EARLY COLLEGE HIGH SCHOOL (P-TECH)
SB 22 by Larry Taylor and Eddie Lucio, III establishes the P-TECH program. It was signed by the governor on May 27, 2017 and takes effect on Sept. 1, 2017.
SB 23 by Charles Schwertner and John Kuempel requires all state contractors and subcontractors to utilize the federal E-Verify system in determining the legal work status of their employees. It passed the Senate and died in House Calendars Committee.
RELIGIOUS LIBERTY/SERMON SAFEGUARD
SB 24 by Joan Huffman and Charlie Geren shields pastors' sermons from government subpoena power. It was signed by the governor on May 19 and took immediate effect.
SB 25 by Brandon Creighton and Ron Simmons eliminates wrongful birth causes of action. It passed the Senate but died in the House Calendars Committee. The companion, HB 434 by Ron Simmons died on the House Calendar.
In addition to the budget, the sunset bills are also "must pass" bills. State agencies undergoing sunset review will automatically be abolished if they are not renewed by the legislature.
STATE BAR OF TEXAS
SB 302 by Kirk Watson and Senfronia Thompson continues the functions of the State Bar of Texas to Sept. 1, 2019. The Senate and House adopted the conference committee report and it is on its way to the governor.
STATE BOARD OF DENTAL EXAMINERS
SB 313 by Charles Schwertner and Cindy Burkett continues the functions of the State Board of Dental Examiners to Sept. 1, 2019. It has been sent to the governor.
BOARD OF TRUSTEES EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT SYSTEM OF TEXAS
SB 301 by Kirk Watson and Dan Flynn continues the functions of the Employees Retirement System of Texas to Sept. 1, 2019. The Senate and House adopted the conference committee report and it is on its way to the governor.
BOARD OF LAW EXAMINERS
SB 303 by Kirk Watson and Senfronia Thompson continues the functions of the Board of Law Examiners to Sept. 1, 2029. The Senate and House adopted the conference committee report and it is on its way to the governor.
SB 315 by Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa and Cindy Burkett was originally the Texas Medical Board sunset bill, but it changed in the process and by the time it made it to the governor's desk it had to do with regulation of pain management clinics and was no longer the sunset bill for Texas Medical Board. HB 3040 by Cindy Burkett died in the House Calendars Committee. The House added an extension of the Texas Medical Board as an amendment to SB 1929, but SB 1929 died in conference committee. It is DEAD.
TEXAS MEDICAL BOARD
TEXAS BOARD OF NURSING
HB 2950 by Cindy Burkett and Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa continues the functions of the Texas Board of Nursing to Sept. 1, 2029. The House and Senate adopted the conference committee report and it is headed to the governor's desk.
TEXAS OPTOMETRY BOARD
SB 314 by Charles Schwertner and Dan Flynn continues the functions of the Texas Optometry Board to Sept. 1, 2029. It has been sent to the governor.
PALO DURO RIVER AUTHORITY OF TEXAS
HB 1920 by Dan Flynn and Robert Nichols implements Sunset Advisory Commission recommendations relating to the Palo Duro River Authority. The House concurred in Senate amendments and it is on its way to the governor.
TEXAS STATE BOARD OF PHARMACY
HB 2561 by Senfronia Thompson and Van Taylor continues the functions of the Texas State Board of Pharmacy to Sept. 1, 2029. The House concurred with Senate Amendments and it is on its way to the governor.
PHYSICAL & OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY
RAILROAD COMMISSION OF TEXAS
HB 1818 by Larry Gonzales and Van Taylor continues the functions of the Railroad Commission of Texas to Sept. 1, 2029. It was signed by the governor on May 22, 2017 and takes effect on Sept. 1, 2017.
SULPHUR RIVER BASIN AUTHORITY
TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
SB 312 by Robert Nichols and Larry Gonzales continues the functions of the Texas Department of Transportation to Sept. 1, 2029. The Senate and House adopted the conference committee report and is on its way to the governor.
HB 1921 by Dan Flynn and Robert Nichols implements the Sunset Advisory Commission regarding the Upper Colorado River Authority. It has been sent to the governor.
UPPER COLORADO RIVER AUTHORITY
STATE BOARD OF VETERINARY MEDICAL EXAMINERS
SB 319 by Kirk Watson and Richard Raymond continues the functions of the State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners to Sept. 1, 2021. The Senate and House adopted the conference committee report and it is on its way to the governor.
SUNSET SAFETY NET BILL
HB 3302 by Larry Gonzales is the sunset safety net bill that extends the life of state agencies under sunset review for 2 more years if their continuation bills fail. But, the safety net died on House Calendar. The companion, SB 310 by Van Taylor was introduced and referred to Senate Business & Commerce Committee on March 6, but never had a public hearing. These bills are DEAD.
by Jane Nelson and John Zerwas is the general appropriations bill for the 2018-2019 biennium. It
appropriates $106.73 billion in general revenue funds; $6.377 billion in general revenue dedicated funds; $71.859 billion in federal funds; and $31.796 in other funds; for an all funds total of $216.758 billion (compared to $216.399 in the 2016-17 biennium and $196.9 billion in the 2014-15 biennium).
FOUNDATION SCHOOL PROGRAM
It provides $38.1 billion in state funds (including general revenue funds and Property Tax Relief funds) and $42.7 billion in all funds for state aid to school districts and charter schools through the Foundation School Program. State funding represents a net increase of $273.6 million in program funding, resulting from an estimated $1.4 billion increase in local property valuations and recapture payments and a $1.1 billion decrease in general revenue funds. It also includes $75 million for school districts experiencing rapid property value decline and $47.5 million for the New Instructional Facilities Allotment.
It appropriates $62.4 billion in all funds including $25.6 billion in general revenue funds and $0.2 billion in general revenue-dedicated funds for Medicaid. This amount is a biennial reduction of $1.9 billion in all funds, including $0.4 billion in general revenue funds.
CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES
It appropriates $3.5 billion in all funds, including $2 billion in general revenue funds for child protective services functions at the Dept. of Family & Protective Services. That is an increase of $508.5 million in all funds and $399.9 million in general revenue funds from the 2016-17 biennial base. It includes $800 million in state funds for border security at the Dept. of Public Safety, Trusteed Programs within the Office of the Governor, Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept., Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, Office of the Attorney General, Texas Soil & Water Conservation Board, Dept. of Motor Vehicles, and Dept. of Criminal Justice.
It appropriates $26.6 billion in all funds to TxDOT. That includes $2.9 billion in funding from anticipated state sales tax deposits to the State Highway Fund associated with voter approval of Proposition 7 in 2015; $2.5 billion in funding from oil and natural gas tax-related transfers to State Highway Fund (Prop 1 from 2014); and all available State Highway Funds from traditional transportation tax and fee revenue sources (estimated to be $8.8 billion for the 2018-19 biennium).
It provides $4 billion in all funds ($2.9 billion in general revenue funds and general revenue-dedicated funds) for non-Medicaid behavioral health and related expenditures. It includes funding for inpatient client services at the state hospitals and community hospitals, outpatient services provided through Local Mental Health Authorities; substance abuse prevention, intervention, and treatment services for adults and children; mental health care and substance abuse treatment for incarcerated offenders; mental health care services for veterans; and other services. It includes $62.6 million in all funds for the biennium to address the current and projected wait-lists for community mental health services for adults and children.
It appropriates $7.2 billion in general revenue funds and $1.5 billion in general revenue-dedicated funds. Included are decreases of $2.9 million in general revenue funds and an increase of $0.1 billion in general revenue-dedicated funds, which is primarily statutory tuition. Additionally, the funding replaces $1.1 billion in all funds for special item funding in the 2016-2017 biennium with $0.9 billion in funding for non-formula support items at all institution types. The general academic institutions (GAI) Instruction and Operations (I&O) formula rate increases from $55.39 to $55.82 and the Lamar State Colleges I&O formula 2016-2017 rate is maintained. The Texas State Technical College's I&O formula level of general revenue funds is maintained at the 2016-17 biennial funding level. Formula appropriations include infrastructure support for 2 new TSTC campuses established in 2015 in North Texas and Fort Bend County. Formula funding for the public community and junior colleges includes an additional $18 million in general revenue funds for core operations and an additional $10.8 million in general revenue funds for success points funding. The contact hour rate increases to $2.7 from the 2016-2017 biennial rate of $2.69. A rider establishes a special joint legislative committee in the interim to prepare recommendations to realign and/or possible eliminate nonformula support items (special items), and to consider funding modifications for institutions of higher education.
It provides $6.6 billion in all funds for the incarceration, probation, and parole of adult offenders, an all funds decrease of $285.4 million.
It includes $4 billion in all funds for the state contribution to retirement benefits of the Teacher Retirement System. Funding reflects a state contribution rate of 6.8% of employee payroll each year. Retiree health insurance funding includes $997.6 million in general revenue funds, an increase of $416.7 million, or 71.7% , from the 2016-17 biennial base funding level. The funding provides for an increase of the statutorily required state contribution to TRS-Care from 1% to 1.25% of public education payroll, and for a one-time appropriation of additional funds to cover remainder of the projected TRS-Care shortfall for the 2018-19 biennium, contingent on the passage of HB 3976 (which did pass and has been sent to the governor).
TRUSTEED PROGRAMS WITHIN THE OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR
Funding for the Trusteed Programs within Office of the Governor totals $1.199 billion in all funds, an increase of $10.9 million, or 0.9% from the 2016-17 biennium. Funding of $155 million in Economic Stabilization Funds includes $110 million for disaster grants, $25 million for grants to law enforcement agencies for bullet resistant personal body armor, and $20 million for Defense Economic Adjustment Assistance Grants to military communities. Funding for economic development and job creation is reflected in the new Strategy C.1.1 Create Jobs & Promote Texas, which combines the funding associated with the previous strategies for economic development, tourism, Film & Music Marketing, Texas Enterprise Fund, military preparedness, and University Research Initiative. Funding in the new strategy for various economic development programs totals $317 million in all funds including:
- $86 million in estimated unexpended balances remaining at the end of fiscal year 2017 in the Texas Enterprise Fund for incentive grants. The funding reflects a decrease of $22 million from the 2016-17 biennium level, in the general revenue-dedicated account.
- $22 million in general revenue funds for Film & Music Marketing. The funding is contingent on certification by the Comptroller that unexpended balances are available out of other economic development funds appropriated to the Trusteed Programs within the Office of the Governor in an amount sufficient to offset the cost of the appropriation
- $15.6 million for the Governor's University Research Initiative, including $10 million in general revenue funds and $5.6 million in estimated unexpended balances remaining at the end of fiscal year 2017 and estimated revenues in the 2018-19 biennium from the Governor's University Research Initiative Fund.
- The funding includes an increase of $159.2 million in federal funds primarily related to an increase in the federal allocation of Crime Victims Assistance grants.
It appropriations $946.3 million ($777.7 million from the Economic Stabilization Fund, $86.6 million in general revenue and general revenue-dedicated funds, and $80 million from the State Highway Fund) for projects to address the repair, renovation, and new construction of state facilities and historic sites, in order to address health and safety issues, maintenance, and other state needs including at state hospitals, State Supported Living Centers, emergency repairs at state facilities, preservation of the Alamo, maintenance needs at state parks and courthouse preservation.
Additional funding is included for cybersecurity and other information technology projects, including $17.6 million to 17 agencies to deploy to Centralized Accounting & Payroll/Processing System (CAPPS) and $0.5 million for 6 agencies to transition to voice over Internet protocol phone systems.
STATE EMPLOYEE RETIREMENT
Funding includes $1.3 billion in all funds for the state contributions for the Employees Retirement System retirement program. It reflects an increase of $40.4 million in all funds for state employees' retirement benefits. Funding provides for a 9.5% state contribution rate per year.
ECONOMIC STABILIZATION FUND
Appropriations include $988.9 million from the Economic Stabilization Fund for the 2018-19 biennium. After appropriations, the cash balance of the fund plus the total asset value of investments are estimated to be $10.9 billion at the end of fiscal year 2019.
LT. GOVERNOR DAN PATRICK
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick
praised the passage of the state budget
, "This state budget is more than a billion dollars less in general revenue than our current budget. It upholds our commitment to spend taxpayer dollars wisely and to live within our means. It maintains almost $11 billion in the Rainy Day Fund. I said at the beginning of this session that we would not spend the Rainy Day Fund on ongoing expenses, and I have kept that promise. This budget contains no new taxes and no new fees. At $106.7 billion, it reduces spending for most state agencies.
"The Texas economy is the tenth largest in the world and we are one of the fastest growing states in the United States, but we have met the challenge of keeping this budget well below the growth of our population times inflation while meeting the critical needs of the state in a tight budget cycle.
"This budget maintains $800 million for border security and fully funds the Foundation School Program including the estimated 80,000 students added to our schools each year from population growth. It includes a half billion dollars for 600 additional Department of Family & Protective Services (DFPS) workers and adds an additional $230 million for mental health services. Additional highlights include:
- $25 million for protective vests capable of high-caliber rifle protection for every Texas law enforcement officer;
- $40 million for Texas ports infrastructure projects;
- $440 million to renovate our deteriorating state hospitals;
- $100 million to restore the Alamo and make repairs on our National Guard armories;
- $44 million in graduate medical education to increase the number of doctors in Texas; and
- $27 million for military and veteran education.
"This budget also provides property tax relief for the spouses of first responders who are killed in the line of duty. It reduces the cost of concealed handgun license fees from one of the highest in the nation to one of the lowest. It strengthens the ban on any state funds going to Planned Parenthood. This budget will help ensure that Texas continues to be the economic leader of the nation."
SPEAKER JOE STRAUS
Speaker Joe Straus
also gave high marks to the budget negotiators saying, "We started with a sizable shortfall, but we are ending this session with a balanced budget that invests in some very important priorities. We're keeping overall spending low while improving child protection and mental health care."
The Legislature and Governor Abbott have made it a priority during this year's legislative session to improve Child Protective Services and the state's foster care system. The budget provides an additional $508 million for child protection, including $88 million in new funding for almost 600 CPS caseworkers. "These caseworkers will allow CPS to see children more quickly and more frequently. This budget will help Texas do a better job of protecting innocent children."
Another top priority for the Texas House has been mental health care. The budget provides $300 million for new construction, significant repairs, and increased capacity at state mental health hospitals. It also appropriates $62.7 million to eliminate projected waiting lists for community mental health services for adults and children, and $37.5 million for a new mental health jail diversion program.
"We are taking a major step forward in our treatment of mental health in Texas. This budget will allow us to implement reforms that we've been working on for two years."
The budget also appropriates $350 million to increase the contribution rate and address a projected shortfall in TRS-Care, the health care program for retired teachers. Without that funding, retired educators would have faced significant increases in their healthcare premiums and deductibles. The budget avoids the severe cuts to higher education that were discussed earlier in the session. Other budget items that reflect the Speaker's priorities include:
- $75 million in education funding to offset share declines in property values in some school districts;
- An additional $71.5 million for Texas Grant scholarships, allowing the program to reach 92% of eligible students;
- More than $100 million to address critical cybersecurity and IT needs across state agencies;
- $160 million for deferred maintenance at state schools and hospitals;
- $90 million for critical life and safety repairs across state facilities; and
- A 25% restoration of rates for Medicaid therapy services.
The House adjourned
at 1:12 p.m. Speaker Joe Straus reflected on the session
, "The results of this session are going to make a real difference in Texans' lives. The House prioritized issues such as protecting children from abuse and improving mental health care, and we accomplished what we set out to accomplish. The issue that is most important to our state's future is education. I am glad we reformed the A-F school rating system, prevented severe cuts to higher education and saved retired teachers' health care. I wish the House's plan to begin fixing education finance, which could have relieved some of the burden on property taxpayers, had made it into law, but we'll keep working on it. Members from both parties and across the state came to Austin and got things done for their constituents. Members had the chance to deliver results on the issues that really matter to their communities. The House feels very good about where we ended up, and now we look forward to returning home and visiting with our constituents about the work of this year's session." He discussed his priority issues:
"Leading up to the start of the legislative session, a number of high-profile tragedies had exposed critical problems at
Child Protective Services
, which was plagued by high turnover among employees entrusted to protect children from abuse. Annual caseworker turnover hovered around 33%. In order to bring stability to the CPS workforce, the Legislature passed a pair of funding bills adding more than 1,400 new caseworkers. The Legislature also made a number of other reforms to CPS and foster care, such as providing additional support for relatives who take in children who've been removed from their homes and increasing foster care provider rates."
"I have made mental health a top priority since 2015, when I created the House Select Committee on Mental Health. This year, the Legislature approved a number of reforms recommended by that committee and directed key resources toward renovating state mental health facilities, reducing waiting lists for services and establishing matching grants to support community initiatives. The Legislature also provided resources for a new jail-diversion grant program and approved the Sandra Bland Act, which will improve treatment for mental health conditions and substance abuse in county jails. This was a banner year for improving mental health care in Texas."
"The Legislature reformed the A-F school rating system to ensure that schools are evaluated more fairly and accurately. The Legislature also approved 'David's Law' in order to reduce cyberbullying. The House led the way in addressing a sizable shortfall in
, the health care program for retired teachers, so that former educators will not face huge increases in their premiums and deductibles. The House also kept the state's colleges and universities strong despite a sizable budget shortfall, and the Legislature passed two key bills to combat sexual assault on college campuses."
"The House made cybersecurity a top priority.
will improve the protection of Texans' private data in the hands of state agencies, while
gives prosecutors tools to fight cybercrimes. The state budget for the next two years provides more than $100 million in funding to address critical cybersecurity and IT needs across state agencies."
"The Legislature closed a budget shortfall and approved a budget that will keep state spending flat over the next two years, despite continued growth in the Texas population. The budget does not require higher taxes and it will leave about $11 billion in the state's Rainy Day Fund by the end of the upcoming budget cycle."
The Senate adjourned Sine Die at 2:47 p.m. Prior to adjourning, the Senators elected Senator Robert Nichols as President Pro Tempore of the Texas Senate. He will serve as Governor of Texas at times when both the Governor and Lt. Governor are out of the state.
Upon adjournment, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick congratulated Senators on a successful session saying,
"I began this session with a strong conservative agenda that affirmed my commitment to property tax reform, women's privacy, life, the second amendment, border security, religious liberty and a lean and efficient government. Twenty of the 30 priorities I announced in January are on track to become law. The Senate led in passing a conservative budget that is more than a billion dollars less that our last budget and did not use the Rainy Day Fund for on-going expenses. The Senate led in passing legislation banning sanctuary cities and maintained funding for border security. We passed one of the strongest pro-life bills ever, protecting the dignity and sanctity of life by banning partial birth abortion in Texas as well as increasing criminal penalties for buying or selling human fetal tissue. We also passed critical reforms for Child Protective Services.
"The Senate led in strengthening religious liberty with the sermon protection act and we provided funding for protective vests for every law enforcement officer in Texas. We also passed a critical Photo Voter ID law. The Senate also led on ethics reform including additional public disclosures for office holders and candidates and cutting retirement benefits for elected officials who are convicted felons.
"I am disappointed the Texas House blocked the passage of real property tax reform through rollback rates and mandatory elections. Unfortunately this means that Texans will continue to suffer a high property tax burden. The House also ignored the need to establish privacy regulations for schools and other local entities, ensuring that our state will continue to be embroiled in this issue in local communities and school restrooms, locker rooms and showers. The House killed the tuition freeze legislation, which would have immediately addressed the spiraling costs of a college education that is crippling many Texans. Inexplicably, the House also rejected over a half-billion dollars in additional school funding because of their refusal to accept a school choice program for disabled children. I am very proud of what we were able to accomplish in the 140 days of this legislative session and I give all the credit to the vigilance and hard work of every senator. We will continue to celebrate these victories of conservative principles and governance and we will continue to fight the battles that remain - particularly on property taxes and privacy which remain 'must-pass' legislation."
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