The Texas State Senate: Senate Committee on Finance
Senate Committee on Finance
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80th Session Interim
Conference Committee on HB 1
80th Regular Session
80th Regular Session
- Provide effective budget oversight of state agencies to ensure that monies appropriated are spent wisely. Particular areas of focus will include the Texas Department of Transportation, Department of State Health Services coordination of Mental Health Services, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department revitalization of State Parks, Health and Human Services Commission management of Frew settlement agreement and waiting list slots, Department of Aging and Disability Services improvement of State Schools, Texas Department of Criminal Justice roll out of treatment programs and review of the salary career ladder for employees for retention purposes, Texas Youth Commission achievement of reform, Texas Southern University rehabilitation, Higher Education Coordinating Board implementation of incentive programs and the creation of the Texas Cancer Research and Prevention Institute.
- Study the effectiveness of cash management strategies of the state. Review the quarterly amount of cash on hand and its use and potential to generate excess returns. Include an assessment of cash flow problems that exist in school districts and request that the Comptroller of Public Accounts report on the additional short-term borrowing needed and the potential impact on bond ratings if legislation is not passed which allows for the "smoothing" of state payments to school districts.
- Explore the policy implications of allowing school districts, or other public agencies, to participate in a permissive pooled collateral program which provides for the centralization of collateral in a pool which will be tracked and verified to meet state requirements.
- Evaluate the effectiveness of existing state tax incentives that encourage employers to provide health coverage to their employees, including tax incentives under the revised state business tax, and make recommendations for additional deductions or credits that increase the number of employees covered by health care insurance.
- Compile a list of significant state assets and infrastructure, including but not limited to the state lottery and state real property, and determine if each asset is being used to the highest and best use possible in the interest of taxpayers of Texas. Where appropriate, provide analysis of alternative uses of underperforming assets, potential cost savings or revenue gains and the legislative actions that would be needed to make the changes that are in the best interest of taxpayers.
- Study the funding of county public hospitals and the role neighboring counties without a county hospital should play.
- Study the feasibility and the advisability of establishing an investment policy that is consistent across all state trust funds, including the trust funds of the Employees Retirement System, the Teachers Retirement System, the Permanent University Fund, and the Permanent School Fund. Identify best investment policies for state trust funds. Examine recent portfolio diversification strategies and the effect they have on long-term fund performance. The recommendations should consider what is an acceptable rate of return, an acceptable degree of risk, the appropriateness of certain investments. (Joint charge with Senate State Affairs Committee)
- Review and evaluate appropriate state regulation of a private operator of the state lottery should the state receive bids for a lease of the lottery that merit strong consideration. Provide recommendations for ensuring the security and integrity of the lottery and for adequate consumer protections. (Joint charge with Senate State Affairs Committee)
- Review and make recommendations that address the state's facility infrastructure needs for public schools, ensuring that funding remains stable, reliable and equitable. Examine the need for funding adjustments for factors that affect the need for facilities, such as fast growth, age and condition of facilities, adequacy of space, construction and land costs, and concentration of students requiring smaller class sizes. Assess the impact on property taxpayers of "rolling forward" the Existing Debt Allotment (EDA) each session and the change in biennial appropriations for the Instructional Facilities Allotment (IFA). (Joint Charge with Senate Education Committee)
- Review current property tax rates at school districts. Explore what mechanisms may exist to prevent any future constitutional funding challenges. Review any funding issues that are particular to certain types of school districts, such as fast growth districts. (Joint charge with Senate Education Committee)
- Review the status, effects, and success or failure of higher education authorities operating under Chapters 53, 53A, and 53B, Education Code, and nonprofit corporations carrying out the functions of higher education authorities under those chapters. Make recommendations regarding any necessary changes in the statutes and administration of same. (Joint charge with Senate Subcommittee on Higher Education)
- Review Medicaid provider reimbursement rate methodologies, including the impact of factors such as infrastructure concerns, federal minimum wage changes, and cost reports. Study the impact on access to care, quality of care, and value, and make recommendations for legislative changes, taking into account rate increases contained in the current budget. (Joint charge with Senate Health and Human Services Committee)
- Study and review state and local options for expanding transportation funding and explore options to reduce diversions of Fund 6 revenue. (Joint charge with Senate Committee on Transportation and Homeland Security)
- Study and make recommendations relating to whether the Texas Department of Transportation is in compliance with Transportation Code §201.109, Revenue Enhancement, and whether the Texas Department of Transportation is using the funding sources provided by the Legislature, including, but not limited to, General Obligation, Fund 6 and Mobility Fund bonds, to build new roads. (Joint charge with Senate Committee on Transportation and Homeland Security)
- Monitor and provide a brief update on the implementation of legislation addressed by the Finance Committee, 80th Legislature, Regular Session, and make recommendations for any legislation needed to improve or enhance and complete implementation.
- SB 247, relating to Sudan divestment, and make recommendations about whether to include Iran in the divestment strategy;
- SB1332 to help improve the state's debt management and oversight, including a more comprehensive review of state debt and improved communication between entities and oversight of state bond issuance;
- SB 10 and the Frew settlement to ensure that the initiatives carried out by the Health and Human Services Commission affect meaningful improvement in access to quality care in the Texas Medicaid program; and
- HB 3732 relating to ultra-clean coal technologies, and determine the amount of property tax removed from the tax rolls, as well as the corresponding impact on school finance. Identify any changes needed to strengthen the program and ensure its success.
- Subcommittee on Higher Education Finance:
- Review and make recommendations regarding the structure and organization of higher education, focusing on funding of the current higher education system, including financing capital projects for general academic institutions and for health-related institutions and changes to funding flagship research universities such as The University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M at College Station. Determine the adequacy of formula funding to support basic functions as well as supporting critical statewide needs and improvements on the various methods of funding research. Reviews should include institutional structures that maximize efficiencies and incentive structures that increase the number of graduates. A review of funding formulas should also include the application of proportionality of state contributions for higher education employee health benefits.
- Review state student financial aid programs (TEXAS Grants, B-on-Time) and provide assessment of the programs' effectiveness and future funding needs.
- Study the effects continued tuition deregulation will have on college enrollment and accessibility.
- Subcommittee on Property Appraisal and Revenue Caps:
- Review the property tax appraisal system, including the following:
- the duties and responsibilities of chief appraisers and appraisal districts;
- any abuses that occur in the appraisal process;
- the process of appointing the members of boards of directors of appraisal districts;
- the impact of adding members to the boards of directors of appraisal districts who are not appointed by the taxing jurisdictions of the district and methods for appointing these additional directors;
- the usefulness of information provided in a notice of appraised value;
- the impact of HB 1010, 80th Legislature, Regular Session, relating to appraisal districts crossing county lines;
- any benefit from requiring more uniformity in appraisal standards used by appraisal districts;
- any revisions to the property valuation appeal system that could reduce the cost of dispute resolution;
- the likelihood of, and any associated benefit from, increased compliance with the existing business personal property rendition law if chief appraisers are given limited audit authority.
- Study the benefits and limitations of property tax appraisal caps compared to a limit on revenue a local jurisdiction can receive without the approval of the voters in the locality. Consider alternative sources of funding to replace property tax revenues.
- Study the cost and benefit to the state of projects approved by school districts limiting the value of business investment under the Texas Economic Development Act (Ch 313, Tax Code), and the funding impact on public schools.
- Review the practice of school districts approving budgets contingent on the passage of a rate-rollback election.
The following reports are available for download: