Austin Update – January 31, 2013

The House and Senate have released HB1 and SB1, which are their preliminary versions of the 2014-2015 state budget. The two budgets are amazingly similar and only about $200 million apart. From UTMB’s point of view the historic and proposed funding schedule looks like this:

Biennium

Amount

FY08-FY09

$457.7 million

FY10-FY11

$566.6 million(1) 

FY12-FY13

$474.2 million(2) 

FY14-FY15 Senate Proposal

$494.0 million

FY14-FY15 House Proposal

$486.5 million

  1. Base adjustment after Hurricane Ike; does not include $150 million TRB debt service or $150 million Ike Match
  2. Reduction of 16.65% from prior biennium primarily in hospital General Revenue funds

The proposed growth in the base budget for UTMB is derived from formula funding growth associated with the increased numbers of students enrolled in UTMB schools, in the debt service for the Tuition Revenue Bond approved last session and in other formula-driven funds. 

Initial budgets for the Correctional Managed Healthcare enterprise are encouraging.  Both House and Senate have offered up a base budget that adjusts the base from the last biennium to include coverage of the prior deficits. Texas Department of Criminal Justice has also filed Exceptional Item requests that, if funded, would permit market adjustments for employees, addition of capital expenditures for imaging and vehicle replacement, and resources to address rising pharmaceutical costs and restoration of staffing.

Another encouraging financial factor has been the Legislative Budget Board’s approval over the past several months of UTMB’s drawing down revenue from the $150 million Ike recovery match account to pay for Ike-related damages on campus. This approval negates the need to extend this process during this legislative session and allows UTMB to proceed rapidly with Ike-related repairs on campus.

The Lieutenant Governor released his committee appointments last week and conducted the unusual practice of having the senators draw lots to determine who among them will serve two-year terms and who will serve for four years before their next election.

Newly elected Galveston County Senator Larry Taylor drew a four-year term for his district. Taylor was also appointed to serve on Senate Health and Human Services, Education, and Intergovernmental Relations committees.

Senate Finance is chaired by Senator Tommy Williams of The Woodlands; Senator “Chuy” Hinojosa serves as Vice Chair. Other members include Senators Duell, Duncan, Eltife, Estes, Hegar, Huffman, Lucio, Nelson, Patrick, Seliger, West, Whitmire and Zaffirini.

The Senate Higher Education Committee is now chaired by Senator Kel Seliger of Amarillo, with Senator Kirk Watson of Austin serving as vice chair. Other members include Senators Birdwell, Duncan, Patrick, West and Zaffirini.

On Tuesday morning, Governor Rick Perry delivered his “State of the State” address to a joint session of the House and Senate. Emphasizing the importance of maintaining the state’s successful economic growth, Perry surprised many by praising both Democrats and Republicans for their leadership in economic reforms associated with the state’s steady growth over the past 10 years, citing in particular the absence of a state income tax, tort reform and control of government spending. He also called for the state to use money from its Rainy Day Fund to address water resource issues and to support continued investment in infrastructure, especially transportation. The speech was interrupted mid-way by a group of hecklers calling for Medicaid expansion. The disruptors were quickly escorted from the House Gallery and the speech resumed without further interruption. Perry closed by calling for collaboration among members to address the infrastructure and educational needs of citizens in the state.

Later that same day, UTMB’s President, Dr. David Callender, presented UTMB’s Legislative Appropriations Request to the Senate Finance Committee. Callender thanked the Senate’s members for their continued support of the university’s recovery after Hurricane Ike, and pointed out that UTMB‘s student enrollment has grown by more than 600 students since Ike. He presented UTMB’s request for formula funding, a mission-based formula for the UTMB Hospitals, and our three Exceptional Items: (1) Trans-Texas Vaccine Institute ($8 million), (2) Regenerative Medicine ($6 million) and (3) Emerging infection Disease Research ($8.55 million). Additionally, UTMB has asked for a $40 million Tuition Revenue Bond to build an $80 million new inter-professional student education facility.

The Honorable Joe Strauss, Speaker of the House, named membership of the House Committees at 11 a.m. today (Jan. 31); most committee chairmen called for immediate organizational meetings. 

Rep. Jim Pitts returns as chair of House Appropriations and Rep. Sylvester Turner as Vice-Chair. Also on Appropriations is newly elected Galveston County Representative Dr. Greg Bonnen. Representative Craig Eiland will continue to serve as Vice Chairman of the House Insurance Committee and Representative Bonnen will serve as a member of that committee also. Representative Tan Parker will chair the House Corrections Committee with Representative James White serving as Vice Chairman. Full lists of committees can be found at www.house.state.tx.us.

Losing no time, Representative Jim Pitts called an organization meeting of the House Appropriations Committee for 30 minutes after the House’s adjournment today and announced that hearings for the committee will begin at 7:30 Monday morning. In that meeting, very much like in the Senate, members will hear reports on revenue availability and Legislative Budget Board recommendations. 

More to come in the coming weeks…

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