Senate Committee on Finance - 80th R.S. (2007)
- Provide effective budget oversight of state agencies to ensure that monies appropriated are spent wisely. Particular areas of focus will include the Texas Department of Transportation, Department of State Health Services coordination of Mental Health Services, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department revitalization of State Parks, Health and Human Services Commission management of Frew settlement agreement and waiting list slots, Department of Aging and Disability Services improvement of State Schools, Texas Department of Criminal Justice roll out of treatment programs and review of the salary career ladder for employees for retention purposes, Texas Youth Commission achievement of reform, Texas Southern University rehabilitation, Higher Education Coordinating Board implementation of incentive programs and the creation of the Texas Cancer Research and Prevention Institute.
- Study the effectiveness of cash management strategies of the state. Review the quarterly amount of cash on hand and its use and potential to generate excess returns. Include an assessment of cash flow problems that exist in school districts and request that the Comptroller of Public Accounts report on the additional short-term borrowing needed and the potential impact on bond ratings if legislation is not passed which allows for the "smoothing" of state payments to school districts.
- Explore the policy implications of allowing school districts, or other public agencies, to participate in a permissive pooled collateral program which provides for the centralization of collateral in a pool which will be tracked and verified to meet state requirements.
- Evaluate the effectiveness of existing state tax incentives that encourage employers to provide health coverage to their employees, including tax incentives under the revised state business tax, and make recommendations for additional deductions or credits that increase the number of employees covered by health care insurance.
- Compile a list of significant state assets and infrastructure, including but not limited to the state lottery and state real property, and determine if each asset is being used to the highest and best use possible in the interest of taxpayers of Texas. Where appropriate, provide analysis of alternative uses of underperforming assets, potential cost savings or revenue gains and the legislative actions that would be needed to make the changes that are in the best interest of taxpayers.
- Study the funding of county public hospitals and the role neighboring counties without a county hospital should play.
- Study the feasibility and the advisability of establishing an investment policy that is consistent across all state trust funds, including the trust funds of the Employees Retirement System, the Teachers Retirement System, the Permanent University Fund, and the Permanent School Fund. Identify best investment policies for state trust funds. Examine recent portfolio diversification strategies and the effect they have on long-term fund performance. The recommendations should consider what is an acceptable rate of return, an acceptable degree of risk, the appropriateness of certain investments. (Joint charge with Senate State Affairs Committee)
- Review and evaluate appropriate state regulation of a private operator of the state lottery should the state receive bids for a lease of the lottery that merit strong consideration. Provide recommendations for ensuring the security and integrity of the lottery and for adequate consumer protections. (Joint charge with Senate State Affairs Committee)
- Review and make recommendations that address the state's facility infrastructure needs for public schools, ensuring that funding remains stable, reliable and equitable. Examine the need for funding adjustments for factors that affect the need for facilities, such as fast growth, age and condition of facilities, adequacy of space, construction and land costs, and concentration of students requiring smaller class sizes. Assess the impact on property taxpayers of “rolling forward” the Existing Debt Allotment (EDA) each session and the change in biennial appropriations for the Instructional Facilities Allotment (IFA). (Joint Charge with Senate Education Committee)
- Review current property tax rates at school districts. Explore what mechanisms may exist to prevent any future constitutional funding challenges. Review any funding issues that are particular to certain types of school districts, such as fast growth districts. (Joint charge with Senate Education Committee)
- Review the status, effects, and success or failure of higher education authorities operating under Chapters 53, 53A, and 53B, Education Code, and nonprofit corporations carrying out the functions of higher education authorities under those chapters. Make recommendations regarding any necessary changes in the statutes and administration of same. (Joint charge with Senate Subcommittee on Higher Education)
- Review Medicaid provider reimbursement rate methodologies, including the impact of factors such as infrastructure concerns, federal minimum wage changes, and cost reports. Study the impact on access to care, quality of care, and value, and make recommendations for legislative changes, taking into account rate increases contained in the current budget. (Joint charge with Senate Health and Human Services Committee)
- Study and review state and local options for expanding transportation funding and explore options to reduce diversions of Fund 6 revenue. (Joint charge with Senate Committee on Transportation and Homeland Security)
- Study and make recommendations relating to whether the Texas Department of Transportation is in compliance with Transportation Code §201.109, Revenue Enhancement, and whether the Texas Department of Transportation is using the funding sources provided by the Legislature, including, but not limited to, General Obligation, Fund 6 and Mobility Fund bonds, to build new roads. (Joint charge with Senate Committee on Transportation and Homeland Security)
Monitor and provide a brief update on the implementation of legislation addressed by the Finance Committee, 80th R.S., and make recommendations for any legislation needed to improve or enhance and complete implementation.
- SB 247 80th R.S., relating to Sudan divestment, and make recommendations about whether to include Iran in the divestment strategy;
- SB1332 80th R.S., to help improve the state's debt management and oversight, including a more comprehensive review of state debt and improved communication between entities and oversight of state bond issuance;
- SB 10 80th R.S., and the Frew settlement to ensure that the initiatives carried out by the Health and Human Services Commission affect meaningful improvement in access to quality care in the Texas Medicaid program; and
- HB 3732 80th R.S., relating to ultra-clean coal technologies, and determine the amount of property tax removed from the tax rolls, as well as the corresponding impact on school finance. Identify any changes needed to strengthen the program and ensure its success.
Chris Harris appointed to fill vacant position pursuant to Rule 11.01. (Letter, David Dewhurst, August 6, 2008).
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