Maybe the high note was safeguarding just what has actually been commemorated as a success for the Texas Panhandle animals market as well as economy: sending out a $217 billion investing strategybudget to Gov. Greg Abbott’s workdesk with $4.2 million set aside for a Texas Tech College veterinary medicine school in Amarillo.
The Amarillo Globe-News called Texas Panhandle legislators and also asked them exactly how they believed the normal session went. Their answers, modified for size and clearness, are below.
What was the Legislature’s most significant achievement this session?
Sen. Kel Seliger: Passing a budget plan with boosts listed below rising cost of living plus population growth, which is a step, I think, of a solid conventional budget. We did some othera few other vital things, as well: appropriating $500 million to youngster protective solutions, including $2.65 billion to cover enrollment development in public institutions
Rep. 4 Cost: I think 2 areas that required a whole lot of focus that obtained it was the CPS system. Foster treatment as well as youngster welfare both needed significant renovations– both programmatic as well as financing enhancement. We truly safe significant financing for psychological wellness that will enhance the delivery of solution to Texans throughout the state. I’m really delighted to see enhancement in all of those locations.
Rep. John Smithee: It’s constantly a success when you get sufficient of a consensus to obtain the spending plan out of the legislature. We didn’t have the growth in income that we have actually had more than the pastfew sessions given that 2011, as well as so I believe simply obtaining that budget out to where you could get an agreement on it is greatreadies. As well as I think it’s an excellent budget. It worksbenefits our area as well as it functionshelps the State of Texas.
Rep. Ken King: The Instructor Retired life System regulations, which put more loan into TRS, was goodexcelled. It was a great piece of legislation that I assume everyone was for. The HomeYour house and the Us senate came with each otherintegrated on that particular one. We did pass a very traditional budget plan and also still paid the bills. I’m truly excited about that. The financial officer has already authorized it. Actually, the spending plan, which includedthat included TRS care, was the largest thing we did.
What occurred throughout the session that will most affect your constituents in the Texas Panhandle?
Seliger: I assume we placed a considerable quantity of added loanmoney right into transportation, which is both a concern as well as exceptionally crucial in our component of the state. We have a hard time to fulfill transportation requirements since all the emphasis positionedput on city areas in Texas.
The panhandle obtains a piece of every transportation dollar, which goes primarily to building of brand-new highways and also keeping and improving farm-to-market roadways as well as freeways. Due to the fact that we’re mainly a commodity-based economic climate in the State of Texas as well as definitely in our part of the state, transportation is critically crucial.
We put $500 million in youngster safety solutions for 600 new caseworkers, which is going to make a huge difference all over the state.
Price: One point I assume will be really helpful is the passage of telemedicine legislature. It will certainly provide far better access to people in the panhandle, both with physicians they recognize and see in Amarillo and also doctors various other locations of the state. Then a few of the legislation we passed about behavioral health will certainly assist both ERs and region jailsSome of the regulation we passed about behavior health will certainly assist both ERs as well as county prisons. MostThe majority of the sheriffs I spoke to in my district as well as across the panhandle desired some sorttype of concrete alleviation on the psychological health and wellness front, so those 2 areas are truly large opportunities for some major headway.
Smithee: The largest thing to the constituency that we represent in the Texas Panhandle was the commitment by the Legislature to fund the Texas Tech vet medical institution right here in Amarillo. That’s a significant success, and among those accomplishments that just takes place once in a lifetime, so I’m really proudhappy with that. Currently, the job hasn’t already been completedCurrently, the work hasn’t been completed. We have to see all the meansright with to conclusion, to where it’s bricks andphysicals and there are pupils coming in as well as obtaining guideline. However the largest and most crucial action has actually The most significant and also most important action has actually been taken.
King: The truthThat the Us senate declined to use up school finance, by farwithout a doubt. The ResidenceYour home passed House Expense 21 by 132 votes to take a very first stepan initial step in reforming college money, and also the Senate refused to take it up.
Oil and also gas largely pays the billsfoots the bill in this state, as well as a few of the college areas that I stand for have had close to a 70 percent decline in building values over the in 2014. With the loss of ASATR (Extra State Aid for Tax Decrease) in September, the failing to use up institution money is going to have the most dramatic impact on my area.
Miami ISD in Roberts County– they are the only college in the county. They are close to HALF moneyed by ASATR. They have actually had an over 60 percent decreasedecrease in their taxed worths. That institution district will certainly send out more to the state in recapture next year compared to they gather in taxes. We’re not just going to lose programs over this, like band and also athletics, we’re mosting likely to be reducing workers.
What problem should the Legislature have invested more time on?
Seliger: Public college finance. Our system of regain, called Altruistic, is still type of a squashing influence on a dreadful whole lot of exactly what are called property-rich college districts.
While a lota great deal of them are building rich and definitely have some advantages, some send 70-, 75-, 80-percent of their tax obligation levy to Austin to head to inadequate schools. That’s developed some economic situations for the taxpayers, however it’s still very challenging for school districts.
Property-poor districts continueremain to struggle since their levy per cent of tax is less in the Robin Hood system, and also as the percentage of state assistance for public colleges has actually gone down as well as down, it ends up being much a lot moreeven more hard for them.
I have actually pertained to believe that the state should certainly offer 50 percent of institution financing at minimum and have regional taxpayers give the rest. Regulations making that happen is one of the pointsthings I believe we ought to examine.
Price: We needed to spend even more time– or have actually just gotten to a much better arrangement– on public college money. I was encouraged by Home Expense 21 when it left the Home. Then it was transformed in the Us senate, and also the twoboth bodies never ever might reach an agreement prior to the clock went out.transformed in the Us senate, and also the 2 bodies never might reach an agreement prior to the clock ran out. Hopefully, we can utilize the acting to concentrateconcentrate on putting in area a far better school finance system to profit rich as well as bad and rural and also metropolitan areas.
Smithee: What right away enters your mind is a couple of things that type of exploded, and atop that checklist is school financing. I think our existing institution finance system is extremely inequitable to reasonably low-growth and also reasonably low-income college areas, which occurs to consist of most panhandle areas.
I was hopingwanting to obtain some alleviation adjustments that would profit the neighborhood school district. The HouseYour house passed HB 21, yet the management in the Senate held that expense hostage over the voucher problem. As a result, nothing passed and also we were not able to safeguard monetary health and wellness for institution districts.
One more costs that was left hanging at the end of session was the Texas Personal privacy Act, commonly knowncalled the “shower room costs.” I believed the Residenceyour home had an extremely realistic approach to that – simply attemptingattempting to handle young ladies in institutions by ensuring that everybody mosted likely to the bathroom of his or her sex, that boys really did not go right intoenter into the women’ restroom as well as ladies didn’t go into the young boys’ restroom. And also in instances where that seems to be troublesome or embarrassing for whatever reason, pupils might go right into a small neutral bathroom, which most campuses currently have. But the Us senate desired even more than that, so nothing passed.
Senate wanted even more compared to that, so absolutely nothing passed.
King: Schools are the constitutional responsibility that we have, so the fact that we did not accomplish that is leading in my mind. If we do not take treatmentlook after constitutional responsibilities, I don’t assume the rest of it matters.
What letter quality do you provide the session?
Seliger: C or D. There’s a whole lota great deal of essential points we could’ve obtained done that we didn’t do. Institution finance is just one of those points. We had a costs that would certainly’ve put even more money into the basic quantity, the base degree of per-student funding for public colleges, and also would certainly’ve alleviated the impact on those institution areas that would not be getting Additional State Aid for Tax obligation Reduction following year.
I don’t believe the Legislature obtained a much better grade compared to the average school area. KeepRemember, I assume the A-F system is flawed, too, in regardsin relation to institution district liability, as well as so it’s rather likely flawed when it becomes appliedrelated to the Legislature.
Cost: Some locations I ‘d provide higher marks compared to others. In health care, I offer us A. In other locations like public education finance, I would certainly give us a reduced grade due to the fact that we can have done extra. Generally, it’s hard to appoint a solitary quality because it depends upon just what you’re checking out. However it’s probably a B.
Smithee: When you examine all our successes and failings, it’s most likely a B-plus.possibly a B.
Smithee: When you examine all analyze successes and failures, it’s probably a B-plus. It can have been a calamity if there was no budget plan contract, so becauseas a result of that, I have to offer us a B-plus overall. We fell short in some crucial areas, which prevented us from obtaining a higher grade, but a B-plus is still excellent.
King: We obtained a budget plan, we paid our bills as well as we did not bust the costs cap. In that respect, I give us an A. I assume the budget is one we can all be pleasedtake pride in. For the total session, I would not say it was an F yet definitely wouldn’t say an A. A general quality would certainly be B or B-minus.
Basically the Senate had some purposes that turned the entire session into national politics versus policy, and also so there’s a whole lota great deal of things that really did not get done. The lieutenant guv made it really clear that if we really did not pass his goals, the Senate wasn’t going to pass anything else. As well as he did it.
Were you satisfied with the success of your legislative agenda?
Seliger: I’m constantly pleased by what obtains passed due to the fact that it could be a difficult procedure. I’m terribly let down in some points that did not pass.
Performance-based increases in tuition did not pass as well as must have.
Restraints on college systems from going off and also constructing universities throughout the state without going withundergoing the Texas Greater Education Coordinating Board to establish if it ideal satisfies both economic duty as well as the instructional mission did not pass.
I had actually a recommended change to the Texas Constitution that would’ve reduced the severance tax obligation when the “Rainy Day” fund getsreaches a certain multiple of general income created in the State of Texas. We have this extremely massive rainy day fund that does nothing but sitbeing in a big digital mattress.
That money does not do anything. It doesn’t educate any children. It does not pay for Medicaid. As a matter of tax obligation policy, it’s something that has to be addressed. It would certainly be a genuine tax decrease to the individualsindividuals who really pay the tax obligation.
Rate: I’m incredibly delighted. We had 20 costs pass the Home, and also 17 passed the Senate and also were either signed by the governor or await his signature at this time. Numerous other bills were either backstops to expenses that did pass or modifications to other regulation, so I’ve been very satisfied. We accomplished quitepractically everything on our legal program this session.
Smithee: My staffers and I passed almost every bill that was actually considerable. I don’t have the last bill count, but almost every little thing passed throughout the program of the session. I’ve never ever had that occur prior to. We’ve never had the success of this session.
One really large concern here locally is the availability of innovative registered nurse experts to take partjoin Medicaid in country areasbackwoods. We were having a genuine issue with compensations from Medicaid, as well as in many neighborhoods, that’s the only kind of insurance people have.
We had the ability to pass regulations to get that fixed. A costs that had a statewide influence is the court safety and security costs (SB 42), which was a major priority of the Texas High court Principal Justice Nathan Hecht. We’ve had several shootings and also assaults on courts in Texas, which was unheard of Two Decade ago however is too typical currently. Judge Julie Kocurek in Travis County was fired drawing up to her house two years earlier. Her capturing was a huge component of us tryingattempting to beef up safety and security not just at the court house but when court personnel go home also since there are whole lotsgreat deals of circumstances where their lives or others’ are put in danger. Even the governor said that it was one of the much more considerable costs come on this session.
King: I lugged the Home version of Us senate Costs 7, which was an improper teacher-student relationship reform expense. It was a big bill. I was excited to bring it, and it passed. The guv has actually already authorized it. I had a variety of various other reforms that I attempted to pass that really did not get passed. I believe I submitted 30 costs in the session as well as I haven’t gone back to see exactly what has made it to the guv’s workdeskI believe I filed 30 costs in the session and also I haven’t gone back to see exactly what has actually made it to the governor’s desk. I never try to pass an extreme quantity of expenses. If I actually function hard on 10 or 11 and also I pass seven or 8 of them, I really feel like it’s an effective session, as well as I really feel like I fulfilled that goal Smithee: The most significant thing to the constituency that we stand for in the Texas Panhandle was the commitment by the Legislature to fund the Texas Tech vet clinical institution right here in Amarillo. Oil and also gas greatly pays the costs in this state, as well as some of the school districts that I represent have actually had close to a 70 percent decrease in home worths over the last year. I assumed the Residence had a really commonsense approach to that – just trying to deal with young ladies in schools by making sure that everyone went to the bathroom of his or her gender, that boys really did not go into the women’ bathroom and ladies didn’t go into the children’ bathroom.
Smithee: The greatest thing to the constituency that we stand for in the Texas Panhandle was the commitment by the Legislature to fund the Texas Technology veterinary clinical college below in Amarillo. Oil and gas mainly pays the expenses in this state, and some of the school districts that I represent have had close to a 70 percent decrease in building worths over the last year. While a whole lot of them are home abundant as well as absolutely have some benefits, some send 70-, 75-, 80-percent of their tax levy to Austin to go to bad schools. I believed the House had an extremely commonsense approach to that – simply attempting to deal with young women in schools by guaranteeing that everybody went to the bathroom of his or her gender, that children didn’t go into the ladies’ shower room and also women didn’t go right into the kids’ washroom. I don’t think the Legislature got a much better quality than the ordinary school district.