Items of Interest compiled by Arnold Public Affairs
The Speaker’s race continues with Representative Ken Paxton appearing to be the main challenger to Speaker Straus…The Speaker says he has 120 votes
State budget officials will ask state agencies for additional cuts this month to help with the projected shortfall…
Freshman legislators were in Austin this week for orientation and to hear from policy experts in the legislature and outside experts about the upcoming challenges in the next session…
The long awaited analysis of what would happen if Texas opted out of Medicaid came out this week – a portion of the executive summary is below. Governor Perry has indicated that he is not likely to support opting out but wants to find ways to make the system more efficient…
Other news with links to the full story follow…
LAWMAKERS EYE EDUCATION “EFFICIENCY”
Efficiency is the buzzword heading into the 2011 Texas Legislative session. And lawmakers say they want to make sure the dollars spent on K through 12 schooling are being spent as efficiently as possible. Anything deemed inefficient — could end up the chopping block. For KUT News and the Texas Tribune — Ben Philpott reports on the most recent education budget deliberations. Figuring out whether any single school district spends money efficiently is hard. Variables like student population, ethnicity, income level…heck even district geography all play a role in just HOW schools spend money. Allen Spelce is a spokesman for Texas Comptroller Susan Combs. He says lawmakers soon will have a better picture.(Source: KERA)
HOWARD RETAINS TEXAS HOUSE SEAT BY 12 VOTES
Rep. Donna Howard is poised to take her seat again in the Texas House of Representatives, following a recount of ballots on Thursday. With the votes counted again, the Austin Democrat beat Republican challenger Dan Neil by just 12 votes, Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir said Thursday night. Neil had called for the recount after Howard had been declared the winner of the Nov. 2 election by just 16 votes of more than 51,000 cast in northwestern Travis County’s District 48.(Source: Statesman.com)
If Texas opted out of the federal program, the full impact from the loss of federal Medicaid dollars would depend on legislative policy decisions:
– Texas would lose $15 billion (SFY 2009) in federal matching funds for client services and hospitals.
– At the same time, Texas residents and businesses would continue to pay federal taxes in support of other states’ Medicaid spending.
– Up to 2.6 million Texans could become uninsured.
– Hospitals still wxould be required by federal law to treat medical emergencies of uninsured former
Medicaid and CHIP clients, potentially adding billions to uncompensated care costs each year.
– The Legislature could preserve benefits for some current Medicaid and CHIP clients using the state share of funding while shielding the state budget from significant losses, but it will be difficult to accomplish these two goals without shifting costs to county governments and public hospitals.
Reading, Bill-Writing and Arithmetic
‘Tis bill-filing season. Here’s a roundup of the significant, odd, and otherwise noteworthy in the public education realm:
• On the textbook front, Rep. Dan Branch, R-Dallas, wants to require universities to provide course and textbook information to students “as soon as practicable” to allow for the timely, and hopefully more affordable, purchase of books.
• Rep. Fred Brown, R-Bryan, wants to nix the Higher Education Coordinating Board and move its responsibilities to the State Board of Education.
• A constitutional amendment banning school vouchers is on the agenda of Rep. Richard Raymond, D-Laredo.
• Rep. Mike Villarreal, D-San Antonio, is in favor of raising experience requirements for teacher certification.
• Rep. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, wants to prohibit sugary drinks from public school campuses.
• There is a quartet of bullying bills: Sens. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo; Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth; John Whitmire, D-Houston; and Peña Raymond all have proposals to curb the behavior.
• Rep. Alma Allen, D-Houston, has a corporal punishment bill that would require a parent’s consent to physically discipline a student.
(Source: Texas Weekly)
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