Tax collections are up 11.6 % from last year, spurred by continued strength in energy and manufacturing sectors. The key revenue source has increased 30 straight months.
All state agencies are reviewed every 12 years for efficiency and continued relevance. This process is called Sunset Review and this year the Texas Education Agency is being evaluated. The Sunset Review staff has made recommendations for changes that would make TEA more efficient and effective, and that would streamline agency functions given that TEA lost 1/3 of its employees in the last budget. Recommendations include moving the Adult Education Program to the Texas Workforce Commission. APA will be evaluating that proposal to determine whether to support such a move on behalf of Goodwills. Other recommendations include abolishing the State Board of Educator Certification, tossing out some of the more onerous requirements of the accountability system, and strengthening the agency’s ability to intervene in failing schools, both traditional and charter.
Republicans, about to begin their second decade of control of the Texas House, expect to lose their 102-seat supermajority but to remain fully in the majority, with a cushion of 16 to 20. Key election contests could influence whether public schools get some of the $5.4 billion they lost in last session’s budget cuts, and whether hospitals and doctors are able to convince state leaders to expand Medicaid. There will also be a big push to draw new legislative districts again.
Sen. Kel Seliger, new Senate Higher Education Committee Chairman is not a friend of the Top 10% rule. “It is there to increase minority enrollment, which I think is a very good idea. I don’t think the 10% rule really works to do that. If so, then we should do away with it.”
House Appropriations Chairman Jim Pitts indicates that the House will have to pass a supplemental budget as soon as possible after the session begins in January 2013. The spending bill is needed to fill a $4.7 billion hole in the Medicaid program and needs to be on the Governor’s desk by mid-March.
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
The Senate Committee on Education will meet at Noon or upon adjournment of Joint hearing of Senate Education and Senate Criminal Justice, on October 30th to monitor the implementation of legislation adopted by 82nd Legislature, specifically: SB 6, relating to the establishment of the instructional materials allotment; SB 8, relating to the flexibility of the board of trustees of a school district in the management and operation of public schools; HB 1942, relating to bullying in public schools; the implementation of legislation related to the state’s accountability system.
Early voting begins October 22nd and ends November 2nd.
Election day is November 6th.