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House Committee on Appropriations - 84th R.S. (2015)

Committee Members
John Otto, Chair
Sylvester Turner, Vice Chair
Trent Ashby
Cecil Bell, Jr.
Greg Bonnen
Cindy Burkett
Giovanni Capriglione
Sarah Davis
Dawnna Dukes
Helen Giddings
Larry Gonzales
Donna Howard
Bryan Hughes
Jarvis Johnson
Linda Koop
Oscar Longoria
Marisa Márquez
Ruth Jones McClendon
Borris Miles
Rick Miller
Sergio Muñoz, Jr.
Dade Phelan
Walter "Four" Price
John Raney
Justin Rodriguez
J.D. Sheffield
Laura Thompson
Gary VanDeaver
Armando Walle
Charges
• Evaluate potential fiscal policy challenges or economic disruptions in the 2016-17 biennium, including the long-term impact of price declines in oil and natural gas on the Texas economy and any fiscal implications for the state budget. Examine options to mitigate the risk of unexpected downturns in state revenue. Examine further progress made during the 84th legislative session to reduce reliance on general revenue dedicated accounts for budget certification. Recommend new or alternative methods to further reduce reliance on dedicated accounts for budget certification purposes and maximize usage of dedicated funds for their intended purposes. Examine other accounts and funding streams utilized by state agencies and institutions of higher education for opportunities to further increase budget transparency.
• Develop recommendations to codify the Strategic Fiscal Review process. Conduct additional Strategic Fiscal Reviews of selected state agencies to further examine and assess agency performance, and ensure taxpayer dollars are used efficiently and effectively.
• Examine Texas constitutional spending limits compared to limits utilized in other states, evaluate their effectiveness in maintaining fiscal discipline, and recommend potential modifications, if needed.
• Evaluate deferred maintenance and physical plant needs of state buildings. Evaluate the appropriate funding mechanisms and timing that should be used to address the ongoing maintenance needs of state assets.
• Monitor the accumulation of available funds within the Texas Economic Stabilization Fund (ESF), particularly in light of the passage of HB 903 (84R). Determine the accuracy of prior ESF revenue predictions, the feasibility of long-term projections for the fund, and the effectiveness of proposed investments strategies utilized by the Comptroller of Public Accounts. Study the impact, if any, on the state’s credit rating when the ESF is utilized at various thresholds including usage for one-time expenses versus recurring costs. Examine potential limits in utilizing the ESF for specific uses, such as addressing unfunded liabilities or retiring state debt.
• Monitor the implementation of HB 9 (84R) and study updated projections towards actuarial soundness of the Employees Retirement System. Examine issues and costs associated with granting cost of living adjustments or “13th Checks” to retired state employees and teachers.
• Monitor the implementation of HB 2 (84R) as it pertains to the short-term funding provided to TRS-Care. Evaluate additional methods to address the health care needs of retired teachers in light of the current health insurance market, including the feasibility and costs associated with retired teachers not eligible for Medicare remaining on a school district’s health care plan until Medicare eligible.
• Monitor the ongoing implementation of SB 20 (84R) and Article IX, Sec. 7.12 of the General Appropriations Act, HB 1 (84R). Study trends in state contracting as developed by the Legislative Budget Board and recommend new and/or modified strategies to ensure all contracting is executed in a transparent and judicious manner.
• Review hospital reimbursement methodologies, including supplemental payments and the Medicaid add-on payments directed by HB 1 (84R) for safety-net and trauma facilities. In the review, include reimbursement methodologies for rural and children’s hospitals. Also, monitor the extension of the Texas Healthcare Transformation and Quality Improvement 1115 waiver.
• Review the Texas Medicaid programs providing long-term services and support to adults or children with medical, physical, or intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Study reimbursement methodologies, the historical appropriated slot allocation compared to the actual fill rate, the procedure of releasing slots to providers, and the impact and timeline of carving services into Medicaid managed care. Identify potential obstacles for the delivery of community long-term services and support, including the availability of community care workers. Make any needed recommendations to improve community long-term services and supports.
• Study the trauma system in the State of Texas, including financing, service delivery, planning, and coordination among Emergency Medical Services providers, Trauma Services Area Regional Advisory Councils, The Emergency Medical Task Force, and hospitals. Determine strengths and weaknesses including challenges for rural areas of the state. Make recommendations to reduce any duplicated services, improve the coordination of services, and advance the delivery of trauma services in Texas. (Joint charge with the House Committee on Public Health)
• Examine the historical growth of the Texas Medicaid program, including factors affecting caseload and cost trends. Review legislative or policy initiatives created to detect or deter waste, fraud and abuse; to reduce cost; or improve the quality of healthcare in the Texas Medicaid program. Evaluate the effectiveness of, and identify savings associated with, these initiatives.
• Conduct a review of current public education programs administered by the Texas Education Agency that are funded outside of the Foundation School Program. Make recommendations to increase, decrease, or eliminate programs based on measurable performance and effectiveness.
• Conduct a review of current funding formulas for community colleges. Specifically, focus on the elements of the instructional funding structure created by the 83rd Legislature: core operations, student success points, and contact hour funding and also the adequacy of state funding to sustain community colleges in light of the variance in resources available to individual colleges. Make recommendations for possible changes to the funding structure of community colleges or changes in the levels of current funding given the future workforce and higher educational needs of the state. (Joint charge with the House Committee on Higher Education)
• Examine the formulas used to fund institutions of higher education. Study the initial development of the formulas and the underlying assumptions used. Make recommendations for new discipline weights, if necessary, evaluating any discrepancies in formula funding for the same program offered at different types of institutions and the inclusion of new medical schools on general academic campuses.
• Evaluate the effectiveness of the Department of Public Safety’s use of funds appropriated during the 84th legislative session for border security operations. Examine existing data and reporting on border security metrics, and recommend improvements to ensure the availability of accurate information in considering sustaining or increasing border security funds.
• Review historic funding levels and methods of financing for the state parks system. Study recent legislative enactments including the General Appropriations Act (84R), HB 158 (84R), and SB 1366 (84R) to determine the effect of the significant increase in funding, specifically capital program funding, on parks across the state.
• Study the various methods of funding the state's transportation network including recent legislative enactments such as Proposition 1 (83(3)) and Proposition 7 (84R). Review the current budget structure for the Texas Department of Transportation as it relates to transportation funding categories and make recommendations for future allocations to accurately address the transportation needs in the state.
• Monitor the performance of state agencies and institutions, including operating budgets, plans to carry out legislative initiatives, planned budget reductions (if directed), caseload projections, performance measure attainment, implementation of all rider provisions, and any other matter affecting the fiscal condition of the agencies and the state. In conducting this oversight, the committee should:
a. consider any reforms to state agencies to make them more responsive to Texas taxpayers and citizens;
b. identify issues regarding the agency or its governance that may be appropriate to investigate, improve, remedy, or eliminate;
c. determine whether an agency is operating in a transparent and efficient manner; and
d. identify opportunities to streamline programs and services while maintaining the mission of the agency and its programs.
• Current law requires the elimination on September 1, 2017, of Additional State Aid for Tax Relief (ASATR), which was intended to offset the cost of tax-rate compressions enacted in 2006. Review how this loss of funding would impact school districts.
• Study the use of local property taxes to fund public education and its effects on educational quality and on Texas taxpayers. Specifically, recommend ways to reverse the increasing reliance on recapture payments to fund public education statewide.

Note:
Jarvis Johnson and Laura Thompson appointed by Speaker on their effective date of taking office.

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