• Highlights from Austin - What to expect in the 85th Legislative Session

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    For the next two rainy days, I’ll be in Austin attending the Texas Association of Business’ Annual Meeting and Policy Conference. I’d like to share with you some of the discussions that have been taking place at the state level that could have impact on our local economy in Texas.
     
    I’ll be posting key information that is being shared today and tomorrow. Please let me know if you have any questions as it’s our goal at the Chamber to share information with our business community.
     
    First panel of the day was appropriately titled “The Future of State Funding,” which, as you can imagine, was an interesting discussion in light of the fact our legislature is facing a budget shortfall this session. That will require lively debates on how to appropriate scare dollars to address issues across our state.
     
    Panelists included:
    The Honorable Kel Seliger- Texas Senate
    The Honorable Drew Darby – Texas House of Representatives
    The Honorable Donna Howard – Texas House of Representatives
     
    Key takeaways-
    - This session will have spirited debates because of the budget shortfall. The bi-partisan group of panelists all agreed that they were not in favor of dedicated revenue as that limits the ability of appropriations to make decisions on where revenue needs to be spent in the next two years.
     
    - When asked what areas of the budget that is not subject to reduction in revenue, they agreed again, that the only area saved from cuts is paying debt service. The other area where the legislature will take a deep dive is funding (and fixing) the numerous issues with the Child Protective Services and our Foster Care system. Not only did the panel all agree protecting our children – our future – is the state’s priority, but the court has mandated that they fix these problems.
     
    - Property Tax Reform is perhaps the biggest issue that will be discussed in conjunction with the state budget. As the State Legislature has heard loud and clear that property tax owners are unhappy with dramatic increases they are seeing on their tax bill. What makes the issue complicated is that as the state is being asked to weigh in on a funding mechanism for local governments – city, county, and school districts. If revenue caps are put into place that would then require funding for education would need to be equitably funded from the state government. There are also major issues in regards to recapture which further complicates the situation. Spoiler alert – the panel only discussed the challenges and didn’t indicate what potential solutions they would like to see. They did not specifically address SB2 which is Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s proposed property tax relief bill. I’m sure we’ll hear more in the next 140 days.
     
    I’ll continue to keep posting highlights from speakers throughout the conference. Please note, that this is only to communicate information and do not necessarily reflect the views of McKinney Chamber. To see a list of the McKinney Chamber’s Legislative Priorities, please click here.
     
    LH
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