FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 19, 2015
(512) 463-0120 office
(512) 497-9411 cell
AUSTIN, TX - Today, HB 1596 authored by State Representative Bobby Guerra and sponsored by Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa overwhelmingly passed the Texas Legislature and is headed to the Governor for final approval. HB 1596 is legislation that amends current law to provide safeguards and protections for local taxpayers if a Hidalgo County Healthcare District is created in the future with voter approval.
Senator Hinojosa issued the following statement:
"I am pleased with the passage of HB 1596 by the Texas Legislature which will protect our Hidalgo County taxpayers if they choose to create a healthcare district in the future. Significant changes were made to current statute in response to feedback received from voters, elected officials, and community leaders.
The name was changed to "Hidalgo County Healthcare District" to allow for a more comprehensive approach to the system we hope to implement that will serve both insured and uninsured residents. 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.
- If the Healthcare District is created in the future with voter approval, HB 1596 states that the county shall reduce their tax rate accordingly. This is a shift in money from the county to the healthcare district that multiplies our resources. Revenue raised from a healthcare district lets us take advantage of a federal program allowing us to receive federal matching money at a three to one investment that creates millions of extra dollars the county was not eligible for previously.
The Hidalgo County Healthcare District is critical for our families in the Rio Grande Valley to cover our community's healthcare needs for both the insured and uninsured, to provide resources to support a medical school, and to decrease the tax burden on our county taxpayers.
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.
This investment would 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."