Archive for April, 2015

Landgraf Votes for Tax Relief Bills

April 29, 2015

By Rep. Brooks Landgraf

AUSTIN – Wednesday, State Representative Brooks Landgraf and the Texas House passed landmark tax relief for the people of Texas, including the first ever decrease in the state sales tax.

The House tax cut plan that was passed is the largest tax cut plan offered in the Legislature, and provides over $4.9 billion in tax relief for Texans.

After the plan’s passage, Landgraf issued the following statement: “By cutting the sales tax for the first time in Texas history, from 6.25% to 5.95%, Texans will see a permanent tax cut every single time they shop in the grocery store, the mall, the hardware store, and even the sporting goods store. Every Texan will see tax relief from this sales tax cut.”

The historic tax cut package also includes a 25% cut to the taxes that businesses pay, known as the franchise tax. This plan provides the fairest approach and conservatively focuses on a low, broad rate so that the tax does not unfairly pick winners and losers.

“At a time when the economy is changing in West Texas, tax relief is welcome, and I am committed to lessening the tax burden of Texans and their business now and in the future,” Landgraf said.

The bills will now be sent to the Senate for approval.

State Representative Brooks Landgraf was elected in 2014 to serve House District 81, which encompasses Andrews, Ector, Ward, and Winkler Counties. Landgraf resides in Odessa with his wife, Shelby. He works as a cattle rancher and also practices law at the firm of Todd, Barron, Thomason, Hudman & Baxter, P.C. in Odessa. An Eagle Scout, Landgraf also serves on the Midland-Odessa Transportation Alliance Board of Directors, the Education Foundation Board of Directors, and the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute Advisory Council.

Representative Shaheen files bill to study new state efficiency improvements

April 15, 2015

By Rep. Matt Shaheen

AUSTIN, TX — In the interest of providing improved state services at a lower cost to taxpayers, State Representative Matt Shaheen (Collin County) filed House Bill 3221. This legislation directs the comptroller of public accounts to conduct a study that evaluates the potential cost savings deliverable to the state through the consolidation of procurement and purchasing functions by state agencies. Speaking to taxpayers, Representative Shaheen said, “We must always seek innovative improvements to the way government operates, to save taxpayer money. House Bill 3221 gives us the information needed to take a major step toward this goal.” The bill would require the comptroller to produce the report by the end of 2017.

Update From Representative James Frank

April 6, 2015

This week in the Legislature:

How do you put in a long week and still manage to fly home on Thursday for Easter weekend? You spend nearly 20 straight hours on the House floor from Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. until Wednesday morning at 5:45 a.m. During that time, the house considered more than 350 amendments to HB1 (the budget). By the time all was said and done, the initial House budget was voted on and approved. I call it the initial House budget because there are many more steps in the process before it becomes final at the end of session.

As with any budget there are things I really like and things I don’t like so much. The things I particularly appreciate about the budget is it:

  1. Does a solid job of prioritizing the most important needs of the state (which, after all, is the primary job of the Legislature).
  2. Uses general revenue to replace much of what TxDOT has been borrowing for roads. This ensures that we are paying for today’s roads with today’s tax revenue instead of paying for today’s roads with debt.
  3. Decreases the amount of dedicated funds used to balance the budget, reducing our use of accounting gimmicks.
  4. Adds over $500 million for Border Security. This is a necessary expense, though one the federal government should be paying.
  5. Makes up for unfunded liabilities in TRS Care (for retired teacher medical coverage).
  6. Adds $2.2 billion in new funding for schools on top of the $4.4 billion added through property taxes.
  7. Covers all of those areas and stays $2 billion under the Spending Cap and nearly $7 Billion under the “pay-as-you-go” limit.
  8. Leaves room for significant tax cuts, which will be determined through the work of the Ways and Means Committee.

The final budget is still fairly far away, however, as the House and the Senate have to consolidate their two different budgets into one, which then also has to be approved by the governor. Nevertheless, we accomplished an important first step last week, as the budget is the only thing the Legislature is legally obligated to pass during session.

While the week was dominated by the budget, we were also able to present HB 1042 in the Natural Resources Committee last week, which extends the designation of the Lake Ringgold site as a unique reservoir site. It should be passed out of committee this week.

After the long week, I was especially glad to be able to go home and spend time with my family for Easter. The new airport looks great, and Alisha, the kids, and I had a great time in Wichita Falls. I hope you also had a great holiday weekend.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to call our Capitol office at (512) 463-0534.

It is an honor to serve as your State Representative.

May God bless you and your family,
James B. Frank

Texas House Passes Conservative Budget

April 3, 2015

By Rep. Andrew Murr

Earlier this week after almost continuous 18 hours of debate, the Texas House of Representatives passed House Bill 1 and took an important step toward finalizing a budget that will be balanced and fiscally responsible for the next two years. The Texas House budget dramatically reforms state government through increased transparency, and addresses the needs of our growing state while staying below two different constitutional spending caps. HB 1 invests significant resources in public schools, boosts formula funding for higher education, invests additional general revenue in transportation, and promotes border security and public safety. Additionally, HB1 accomplishes this by limiting overall spending growth to less than what is necessary to account for population and inflation increases.

The below chart illustrates biennial “All Funds” appropriations since fiscal years 2008–09. The figures also adjust current and historical appropriation totals into 2008–09 dollars based on compounded population and inflation growth. All Funds expenditures increased by 21.9 percent from 2008–09 to 2016–17 biennia, but decreased 5.3 percent after adjusting for population and inflation.

Fiscal Biennium Unadjusted Adjusted for Population/Inflation
Amount Percentage Change Amount Percentage Change
2008-2009 $172.131 billion N/A $172.131 billion N/A
2010-2011 $187.517 billion 8.9% $175.830 billion 2.1%
2012-2013 $190.755 billion 1.7% $165.695 billion -5.8%
2014-2015 $202.083 billion 5.9% $166.154 billion 0.3%
2016-2017 $209.785 billion 3.8% $162.972 billion -1.9%
*Source: Texas Legislative Budget Board

Murr explained, “Approving a state budget is one of the important constitutional obligations of our state legislature every two years. Passing HB 1 with a vote of 141-5 demonstrates that this budget was thoroughly vetted with input from all state representatives. I look forward to working with members of the Senate to finalize this conservative budget.”

Following this week’s vote, HB 1 now heads to the Texas Senate. When the Senate passes their proposed budget, which is expected to contain changes from the House version, HB 1 will head to a conference committee composed of several members from each chamber to hammer out specific differences. Following the conference committee’s work, the final budget will be submitted to both the House and Senate for final approval for before being sent to the Governor.

Representative Keffer & Texas House Pass Conservative State Budget

April 2, 2015

By Rep. James L. “Jim” Keffer

Yesterday, the Texas House of Representatives passed House Bill 1& House Bill 2, which represent a major step towards establishing the state budget for the next two years. House Bill 1appropriates $209.8 billion, only a 3.8% increase from the previous biennium. The House budget comes in $2 billion below the spending limit and $8.4 billion below the pay as you go limit. This provides significant room for tax relief and debt reduction. No funds have been appropriated from the Economic Stabilization Fund(Rainy Day Fund), which is expected to balloon to $11billion by 2017. House Bill 2 makes supplemental appropriations and gives direction to state agencies for their spending this year. “This budget represents strong conservative fiscal discipline, while still funding key issues for the State of Texas,” said Keffer.

House Bill 1appropriates $565.2 million for border security, $41.4 billion for the Foundation School Program system, and $24.8 billion for the Department of Transportation. Additionally, HB 1addresses the Employees Retirement System by increasing funds by $265.3 million. The bill also includes $2,678,899 to accelerate the development of Palo Pinto Mountain State Park that stretches across Palo Pinto and Stephens Counties.

The Texas House budget dramatically reforms state government through increased transparency, and addresses the needs of our growing state while staying below the constitutional spending cap. HB 1invests significant resources in public schools, boosts formula funding for higher education, invests additional general revenue in transportation, and promotes border security and public safety. Additionally, HB 1accomplishes this by limiting overall spending growth to less than what is necessary to account for population and inflation increases.

House Bill 2 appropriates, in addition to amounts previously appropriated for the 2014- 2015 state fiscal biennium, $768,100,754 out of the general revenue fund to the Teacher Retirement System. “This money will help stabilize TRS while the Legislature finds a more permanent solution. I am very proud to stand with my House colleagues in support of these bills.” said Keffer.

Texas Citizens Coalition Sits Down With Chairman Dennis Bonnen

April 1, 2015

Rep. White Reminds Texans of National Child Abuse Prevention Month

April 1, 2015

By Rep. James White

Austin, TX – April marks National Child Abuse Prevention Month, a time designated to acknowledge the importance of families and communities working together to prevent child abuse and neglect and to promote the social and emotional well-being of children and families.

This year marks the 41st anniversary of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act. This act was the first Federal child protection legislation and marked the beginning of a new national response to the problem of child abuse and neglect.

State Representative James White encourages Southeast Texans to share child abuse and neglect prevention awareness strategies to promote prevention across the state. It is important and vital that we recognize and find strategies to bring awareness to this issue that impacts all of us as a community. “Awareness is the first step to create change and together Southeast Texans can help in taking action to end child abuse once and for all,” said Rep. White.

For more information contact our office at (512) 463-0490 or (409) 283-3700.

Contact:
Saul Mendoza
(512) 463-0490

Texas Citizens Coalition Sits Down With Chairman Tan Parker

April 1, 2015

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