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Appropriations

Texas Legislature Online (free bill tracking, committee schedules, etc.)

Who Represents Me?                    House Committees                        Senate Committees

 

State Revenue Outlook

Comptroller Glenn Hegar’s  revenue estimate for the 2020-2121 biennium is $119.1 billion in general revenue funds; an increase of about 8% over the last biennium. However, Hegar mentioned falling oil prices last month, and increased uncertainty in the U.S. economy (tariffs, etc.) and international financial markets as areas of concern despite the increase, “We remain cautiously optimistic but recognize we’re unlikely to see continued revenue growth at the unusually strong rates we’ve seen in recent months.”

Texas State Library and Archives Commission

TSLAC submitted a $68.5 million budget request for the biennium, and a $37.9 million request for additional exceptional items. The majority of the exceptional item request addresses creating additional storage capacity so that TSLAC can continue to accept and store state and local records, and archival materials. TLA endorsed the state library’s budget request, including all exceptional items. Our priority, however, is exceptional item #4 which requests $4.2 million to leverage state buying power to provide access to e-book materials for public, K-12, and academic library users.

TLA President Jennifer LaBoon (Fort Worth ISD) testified at the Senate Finance hearing in support of TSLAC’s budget. Cindy Buchanan (Aldine ISD) and Linda Stevens (Harris County Public Library) testified at the House Appropriations Article I Subcommittee hearing in support of TSLAC’s budget.

The e-book exceptional item is in Article XI in both the House and Senate budget bills. TLA will reach out to conference committee members once they are appointed to ask that the item be included in the final budget.

TLA E-Book Fact Sheet

E-Book Infographic

Senate Finance testimony

House Appropriations Article I Subcommittee testimony

School Funding and SB 3

The Senate budget includes approximately $7 billion and the House budget includes around $10 billion in additional funding for schools. SB 3, by Senator Jane Nelson, provides for a $5000 raise for all full-time classroom teachers. The estimated $3.7 billion price tag for this raise is included in the additional $7 billion proposed in the Senate version of the budget. The House leaves how the additional $10 billion is to be spent up to the districts.

While there have been other bills introduced that do include raises for librarians, counselors and nurses in addition to classroom teachers, the fact that SB 3 was filed by Senator Nelson, the chair of Senate Finance indicates that this will most likely be the bill that receives the most attention and debate.

TLA sent letters to Senator Nelson, Governor Abbott, Lt. Governor Patrick, and Speaker Bonnen strongly opposing SB 3 as currently written because it does not include school librarians in the salary increase, and asking that any legislation providing salary increases include school librarians.  TLA letter opposing SB 3

SB 3 was been referred to the Senate Finance Committee. TLA encouraged school librarians to contact members of that committee, especially if they live or work in one of the members’ districts, to express our opposition to SB 3 as written and ask that the legislation be expanded to include school librarians.

Find who represents you

Senate Finance Committee Members

Senators’ Contact Information  (note: all Senate email addresses follow this format – jane.nelson@senate.texas.gov)

TLA and TASL’s advocacy effort was successful! Senator Nelson offered an amendment to the bill adding school librarians. The amendment and the final bill were unanimously approved. The Senate passed the bill and it has been referred to the House Public Education Committee.

Additional Resources – Pay Raise

Texas Association of School Librarians (TASL) members Nancy Jo Lambert, and Brandi Rosales developed the following sample messages and talking points to use with legislators, teachers and other educators, and family, friends and parents.

Messages – Legislators

Messages – Teachers and Educators

Messages – Family, Friends, Parents and other Advocates

Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB)

As part of its budget request, THECB included two exceptional items addressing Open Educational Resources – $200,000 over the biennium to fund additional grants to develop OER course materials; and $250,000 over the biennium to fund development and maintenance of an OER repository using the OER Commons platform.

TLA OER Fact Sheet

TLA Testimony House Appropriations Article III Subcommittee

SB 2/HB 2  – Property Tax Reform

SB 2, and HB 2 which is identical, lowers the rollback rate to 2.5% from the current 8% for all taxing units with more than $15 million in combined property and sales tax revenue.  If local governments want to exceed that cap to generate more revenue, they will need to have an election and ask voters.  For local governments, local leaders say the cap will stifle their ability to adequately fund police, fire fighters and other essential public services, including public libraries.  SB 2, ironically, does not completely reduce tax bills for property owners – rather it would slow the speed at which they increase year over year.  SB 2 does not address tax compression of school property taxes, which are expected to be addressed in a separate bill.

The bill was referred to the Senate Property Tax Committee chaired by Senator Paul Bettencourt. A hearing was held February 6 at which city and county leaders argued that the bill would seriously hamstring their ability to budget for necessary services. Despite that, the committee approved the bill on February 11.

The bill was amended to increase the rollback rate to 3.5%, and passed the full Senate in April. The House Committee on Ways and Means passed HB 2 and is expected to debate the bill on April 24.

TLA submitted a letter outlining our concerns regarding the impact this will have on public library funding.

 

 

 

 

 

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