FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 18, 2015
(512) 463-0120 office
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AUSTIN, TX — Today, Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa and Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr. filed Senate Bill 626 legislation to create a Hidalgo County Healthcare District. It is a top priority this legislative session and Senators Hinojosa and Lucio will work together with the Valley House delegation to ensure its passage.
Senator Hinojosa issued the following statement:
The Hidalgo County Healthcare District is critical for our families in the Rio Grande Valley to provide resources to support a medical school, to cover our community's healthcare needs for both the insured and uninsured, and to decrease the tax burden on our county taxpayers. The millions of dollars over the next 10 years is expected to generate new tax revenue than it would cost the county and create thousands of new jobs.
Our healthcare providers provide millions of dollars in care to people who can't afford it ever year, forcing them to pass the bill onto county taxpayers or to people with insurance through higher fees and premiums. The Healthcare District will benefit taxpayers by bringing more federal dollars to the county and putting the uninsured into the system with a focus on prevention and early treatment.
"I am pleased to joint author this bill which is critical to healthcare delivery in Hidalgo County. We have some of the highest rates of uninsured individuals and amongst the worst health care outcomes in the nation. Senate Bill 626 will allow Hidalgo County to improve our indigent care program as well as leverage and draw down additional federal funds to address health disparities. The Hidalgo County Healthcare District will provide the ability to improve health outcomes in some of the most vulnerable communities, and the benefit to all cannot be underestimated," stated Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr.
In response to feedback received from voters, elected officials, and community leaders, we put safeguards into the legislation to ensure the most protections for taxpayers. The name was changed to "Hidalgo County Healthcare District" to allow for a more comprehensive approach to the system we hope to implement. The following are the key changes to the Healthcare District legislation:
- The tax rate is now capped at 25 cents per $100 valuation.
- The budget must be approved by the Hidalgo County Commissioners Court to ensure proper oversight.
- All residence homestead exemptions will be provided. This includes an exemption for elderly and disabled residents as well as a total exemption for 100% disabled veterans and their surviving spouse.
- All rollback tax provisions apply.
Once the Healthcare District is created in the future, we anticipate that the county will reduce their tax rate accordingly. This is a shift in money from the county to the healthcare district that multiplies our resources. Revenue that is raised lets us take advantage of a federal program allowing us to receive federal matching money for every local dollar invested -- a three to one investment that creates significant earnings. This will go a long way in helping to grow the medical school and extend medical services, including mental and behavioral health, for all residents and stabilize our property taxes.
This investment will bring millions of dollars into our local economy, create thousands of new jobs, produce an educated and healthy workforce, and a healthier Hidalgo County for all of our families and children.