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February 19, 1998     (512) 463-0300

LEGISLATORS DISCUSS FUNDING ISSUES IN EDUCATION

AUSTIN - Members of the Senate's Interim Committee on Funding Issues in Education met in a public hearing at the state capitol on Thursday, February 19. By developing performance and budget recommendations and examining funding issues in higher education and public schools, the committee is aiming to provide all Texans access to an affordable quality education.

Co-chairing the committee are Senators Teel Bivins of Amarillo and Bill Ratliff of Mount Pleasant with members including Senators Robert Duncan of Lubbock, Gregory Luna of San Antonio, David Sibley of Waco, Royce West of Dallas, and Judith Zaffirini of Laredo.

The committee heard testimony from a list of invited witnesses. Providing an overview of the Foundation School Program was the assistant director of the Legislative Budget Board (LBB), John O'Brien. The LBB also provided a staff report review on Foundation School Program funding elements, current interim studies, and costs of fully funding set-asides. A witness representing both the Garland Independent School District and the School Finance Working Group provided testimony on basic allotments, compensatory education funding, and transportation allotments. Witnesses from the Texas Education Agency shared insights into special education allotments and possible changes due to federal law revisions and answered any current issue questions the members had. Other agencies represented included Cypress Fairbanks Independent School District, the Fast Growth Coalition, the Equity Center, and the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented.

STATE AFFAIRS COMMITTEE MEETS AT STATE CAPITOL

AUSTIN - On Thursday, February 19, the Senate Interim Committee on State Affairs continued its hearings on interim charges at the state capitol. Members of the committee include its Chair, Senator Ken Armbrister of Victoria, as well as Senators David Cain of Dallas, Robert Duncan of Lubbock, Drew Nixon of Carthage, and John Whitmire of Houston.

The executive directors from both the Employees Retirement System and Teachers Retirement System provided an overview of the current policies and procedures, such as payroll deduction and group insurance, in regard to the two agencies. The Consumer Protection Division of the Office of the Attorney General gave an insight into the study of the legal powers, duties, and structures of homeowners associations in Texas, including lien and foreclosure abilities.

Several commercial contractors as well as a residential homebuilder testified in relation to another of the committee's charges. The members are responsible for analyzing the regulations and laws governing contractors in construction, remodeling and repair of residential and commercial buildings. The executive director of the Texas Underground Facility Notification Board assisted the committee with testimony concerning the implementation of the Underground Facility Damage Prevention and Safety Act.

Finally, the committee heard testimony regarding the implementation of legislation passed last session that allows home equity loans in Texas. Providing insights into possible recommendations for legislative or regulatory actions were representatives from the Financial Litigation Division of the Office of the Attorney General and the Consumer Credit Commission.

Both committees will gather their findings and offer any necessary recommendations to the 76th Legislature which convenes in January of next year.

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