P.O. Box 12068, State Capitol
Austin, Texas 78711
Tel. (512) 463-0112
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 31, 2019
AUSTIN – The Senate Finance Committee, chaired by State Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, has received its interim assignments – a list of items to be analyzed over the months ahead with recommendations issued in a report to the next Legislature.
“These interim charges will allow us to closely examine funding in several important areas, including teacher pay, natural disasters, research and health care -- ensuring that we are making prudent use of taxpayer dollars and achieving our desired outcomes," Senator Nelson said. "We will analyze the state's investment portfolios to ensure we are maximizing resources. With growing cyber threats and rampant failures in information technology procurements across state government, we will take a critical look at agency technology, and monitor several reforms passed in the previous legislative session."
The committee assignments include:
- Investment of State Funds: Review the investment strategies and performance of funds invested through the Teacher Retirement System, the Permanent School Fund, and university funds. Make recommendations to better coordinate and leverage Texas' purchasing power to maximize investment income to the state.
- Agency Technology: Review current and prospective technology related purchases and upgrades in state agencies. Identify areas of overlap and make recommendations to eliminate duplication, improve efficiency, save costs, and improve performance.
- Performance Based-Contracting: Review and determine best practices for executing performance-based contracting across all health and human service agencies, and other selected agencies, as applicable. Identify which services utilize performance-based contracting, as well as their outcomes. Recommend specific strategies for improving and expanding performance based contracting across all health and human service agencies, and other selected agencies, as applicable.
- Spending Limit: Examine options and make recommendations for strengthening restrictions on appropriations established in Article VIII, Section 22, of the Texas Constitution, including related procedures defined in statute. Consider options for ensuring available revenues above spending limit are reserved for tax relief.
- Higher Education Research Programs: Create a comprehensive list of research projects conducted by higher education institutions that are funded by state expenditures, including an inventory of funding streams and programs supporting identified research projects. Identify best practice methods to improve efficiency and coordination of research among university systems, eliminate duplication, and align research projects with the goals of the state.
- Business Personal Property Tax: Study the economic dynamics of the current business personal property tax. Consider the economic and fiscal effects of increased exemptions to the business personal property tax, versus its elimination. Following such study, make recommended changes to law.
- Natural Disaster Funding: Review federal, state, and local eligibility and receipt of disaster funds from Community Development Block Grants - Disaster Relief and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Identify any barriers to the effective utilization of those funds and recommend any changes to statute, rule, or practice to promote the efficient deployment of those funds and expedite recovery by affected citizens, businesses, and communities.
- Monitoring: Monitor the implementation of legislation addressed by the Senate Committee on Finance passed by the 86th Legislature, as well as relevant agencies and programs under the committee's jurisdiction. Specifically, make recommendations for any legislation needed to improve, enhance, or complete implementation of the following:
- Senate Bill 12, relating to the contributions to and benefits under the Teacher Retirement System;
- House Bill 1525, relating to the administration and collection of sales and use taxes applicable to sales involving marketplace providers;
- House Bill 3384, relating to the authority of the comptroller to conduct a limited-scope review of an appraisal district located in an area declared by the governor to be a disaster area;
- House Bill 4388, relating to the management of the permanent school fund by the School Land Board and the State Board of Education and a study regarding distributions from the permanent school fund to the available school fund;
- House Bill 4611, relating to certain distributions to the available school fund;
- Appropriations for behavioral health services, including funding for state hospital construction, the Texas Child Mental Health Care Consortium (Senate Bill 11), mental health waitlist reduction, and substance abuse and opioid addiction;
- Contingent upon voter approval, study the implementation of House Bill 492 and House Joint Resolution 34, relating to a temporary exemption from ad valorem taxation of a portion of the appraised value of certain property damaged by a disaster;
- District implementation of increases in teacher compensation provided by the 86th Legislature; and
- Efficiencies in state-funded health care programs that reduce or contain costs and improve quality of care. Assess the quality and performance of health plans that contract with the state, including contract compliance, financial performance and stability, quality metrics, and consumer surveys, among other indicators. Monitor the implementation of Health and Human Services Commission Rider 19 and Article IX, Section 10.06.