How the state finances vital health care services for its residents is a perennial subject of debate in the Texas Legislature. With no state income tax, Texas relies on tax revenue from property owners to finance multiple social services. In addition, the state is required to have a balanced budget and operates under a state constitutional spending cap.
The Texas Hospital Association tracks and will help educate lawmakers in their effort to:
- Examine options to increase investment earnings of the Economic Stabilization Fund or the “Rainy Day Fund” in a manner that minimizes overall risk to the fund balance. Investment options should ensure the liquidity of a sufficient portion of the balance so that the legislature has the resources necessary to address the needs of the state, including natural disasters. Evaluate how the Economic Stabilization Fund constitutional limit is calculated. Consider alternative methods to calculate the limit and alternative uses for funds above the limit. Senate Finance Committee
- Continue to study strategies to use the Economic Stabilization Fund to generate additional revenue for state obligations without compromising the fund’s intended purpose. Evaluate the current methodology used to set the ESF cap. House Committee on Appropriations
- Examine the use of one-time funding and deferral measures employed by the legislature in the state budget for the 2018-19 biennium, as well as any other factors that may contribute to a structural deficit. Explore strategies to ensure the state’s ability to meet its ongoing fiscal obligations. House Committee on Appropriations
- Any lapses in funding at the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services or the Texas Health and Human Services Commission for prevention and early intervention, and/or behavioral health services.
- THHSC’s use of appropriated funds to expand Texas’s inpatient psychiatric infrastructure.
- Medicaid cost-containment efforts.
- Evaluate the effective tax rate and rollback tax rate calculations and identify modifications that would yield a rollback process that is meaningful for local governments and for citizens. Evaluate whether the current rollback election trigger serves modern objectives. Senate Select Committee on Property Tax Reform
- Evaluate the operations of appraisal review boards, specifically the training and expertise of members concerning appraisal standards and law, ethics and meeting procedures. Determine whether ARB operations are sufficiently independent of central appraisal districts and taxing units and whether ARBs and/or chief appraisers should be elected. Senate Select Committee on Property Tax Reform
- Evaluate whether existing libraries of property tax data and collection methods are adequate for studying local property tax outcomes and identifying drivers of growing property tax levies. Determine the scope of existing data, where it is stored and how it is made available to the public. Determine whether existing, available data is adequate for the needs of the legislature and the public. Review existing procedures for the collection and verification of data. Receive recommendations from the comptroller regarding the collection, verification and publication of property tax data. Senate Select Committee on Property Tax Reform
- Study the feasibility of replacing the property tax with sales tax or other consumption tax revenue, with emphasis on school maintenance and operations tax. Evaluate whether some local property taxes lend themselves to a swap more than others. Quantify the short-term and long-term economic effects of a tax swap. Identify a target property tax rate and evaluate how to reach that target with a consumption tax swap. Senate Select Committee on Property Tax Reform
- Investigate the feasibility of dissolving special purpose districts and determine if there are criteria that would make dissolution acceptable. Make recommendations for codifying the dissolution requirements and procedures. House Committee on Special Purpose Districts
- Review the property tax system and identify improvements relating to:
- Transparency and communications with taxpayers.
- The tax-rate-setting process.
- The training and expertise required of appraisal review board members.
- Appraisal review board composition, structure and process.
- Appeals of appraisal review board orders.
- In conjunction with the appropriate legislative departments, determine whether the development of a template or standardized language for the creation of municipal management districts would provide a more effective means for legislators to ensure new special purpose districts conform to accepted standards and contain appropriate taxpayer oversight. Senate Health and Human Services Committee
John Hawkins, senior vice president of advocacy and public policy, 512/465-1505
Jennifer Banda, vice president of advocacy, public policy and HOSPAC, 512/465-1046
Carrie Kroll, vice president of advocacy, quality and public health, 512/465-1043
Sara Gonzalez, vice president of advocacy and public policy, 512/465-1596
Cameron Duncan, III, J.D., assistant general counsel, 512/465-1539