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January 13, 2000     (512) 463-0300

Senate Interim Subcommittee on Tobacco Settlement Proceeds Holds Austin Hearing

AUSTIN - The Senate Finance Interim Subcommittee on Tobacco Settlement Proceeds held a meeting today, January 13, 2000, at the Texas State Capitol. The subcommittee met to review expenditures by agencies and institutions that received appropriations from tobacco settlement proceeds. The review is to ensure the efficient and effective use of those funds, and identify priorities for the use of future tobacco settlement proceeds.

The subcommittee consists of five members appointed by Finance Chair Bill Ratliff. Senator Royce West of Dallas serves as chair. Other Senate members of the subcommittee include Robert L. Duncan of Lubbock, Troy Fraser of Horseshoe Bay, Mike Moncrief of Fort Worth, and Steve Ogden of Bryan.

The first two witnesses to give invited testimony at the hearing were John O'Brien and Regina Martin, both of the Legislative Budget Board. They conducted an overview of the state's disbursement of tobacco settlement proceeds. Martin reported on the planed expenditures of tobacco settlement dollars within various Texas health organizations for the year 2000. She told members of the subcommittee that the Texas Department of Health will use $35.1 million to expand Medicaid, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission will use $3.8 million for health insurance, the Texas Department of Human Services will use $12 million, the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation will use $25.15 million, and the Interagency Council on Early Childhood Intervention will use $300 thousand for grants.

Next to testify was James LeBas, Comptroller of Public Accounts, and Andy Taylor, First Assistant to the Texas Attorney General. They provided monetary analysis relating to tobacco settlement adjustments.

The last invited testimony of the afternoon was provided by the various state agencies that received tobacco settlement proceeds. Witnesses included Dr. William Reynolds Archer III, Commissioner of Health, Dr. Charles Bell, Executive Deputy Commissioner, from the Texas Department of Health, Sam Resin, Executive Director for the Center for Rural Health Initiatives, Don Gilbert, Commissioner for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, Eric Boss, Commissioner for the Texas Department of Human Services, Karen Hale, Commissioner, and Bill Campbell, Chief Financial Officer, for the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation, Taret Hamilton, Executive Director for the Texas Healthy Kids Fund/Corporation and Donna Samuelson, Executive Director for the Interagency Council on Early Childhood Intervention. Testimony from these state agencies was focused on the expenditure of tobacco settlement proceeds and priorities for the use of future tobacco settlement proceeds.

After invited testimony concluded, public testimony followed. The first public testimony came from Eva de Luna Castro, an analyst from the Center for Public Policy Priorities. She was followed by Celia Davis of Hendrick Health System.

The subcommittee recessed subject to call of the chair.

Click below to listen to the hearing in RealAudio format.

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