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


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