February 20, 2015
Contact: Megan Hanson
Contact: Megan Hanson
TODAY IN FINANCE
On the agenda: Article VI
- General Land Office
- Department of Agriculture
- Railroad Commission
- Parks and Wildlife Department
- Commission on Environmental Quality
- Water Development Board
For the full agenda, please view the posting online
- Today will feature the first appearance before the Senate Finance Committee for two newly elected statewide officeholders -- Land Commissioner George P. Bush and Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller.
- SB 2 eliminates diversions for the Sporting Goods Sales Tax, appropriating the statutory maximum to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Under statute, 94% ($261.1M this biennium) of the Sporting Good Sales Tax can be appropriated to Texas Parks and Wildlife with 74% ($193.2M) of that 94% to be used for state parks maintenance and operations, 15% ($38.8M) for Local Parks Grants, 10% ($25.9M) for the Large County & Municipal Recreation Account and 1% ($2.6M) for the Conservation and Capital Account. This is an increase of $89.6M over the 2014-2015 biennium for what was appropriated from the Sporting Goods Sales Tax to the Parks and Wildlife Department.
- Statement from Senator Nelson: "Our state parks are treasures that need to be preserved for future generations of Texans to enjoy. Our base budget allocates the highest possible percentage of the sporting goods tax to make sure that we provide the funding necessary to maintain and improve our state and local parks."
- SB 2 continues funding for air monitoring stations in the Barnett Shale, although their budget is reduced from last session due to the completions of one-time capital expenditures for the purchase of equipment.
- Funding for the Texas Emissions Reduction Program remains at the same level in SB 2 as the 2014-2015 budget.
- The Water Development Board has closed the initial application period for the first round of funding from the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT). They received 48 applications for more than $5.5B, including urban and rural projects. The agency is currently reviewing applications and plans to issue $800 million in SWIFT loans by the fall of 2015.
- The Department of Agriculture will continue their interagency contract with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission for the Texas Wine Marketing Assistance Program, which receives $250,000 a year in SB 2 to support the Texas wine industry, a priority for the Grapevine community in Senate District 12.
- Under SB 2, the Railroad Commission will continue the employment of a full-time seismologist to study any potential impact of fracking and the oil and gas industry on seismic activity.
To watch the Senate Finance Committee hearing online, click here.
Senator Jane Nelson
Chair, Senate Finance Committee