TAC Financial Analyst Zelma Smith began this week's virtual Tuesday Morning Breakfast by looking at highlights from Gov. Greg Abbott's 2022-23 budget proposal, released Feb. 5. Gov. Abbott's budget priorities largely square with those he outlined last week in his State of the State address. The governor's budget prioritizes the state's economic recovery from COVID-19 and addresses health and educational issues such as broadband internet deficiencies highlighted by the pandemic. The governor’s public safety, school finance, and property tax reform priorities are also included.
Look for more detailed examinations to come in this newsletter and on the Legislative Services website as the state budget process plays out over the next few months.
House Bill 749 and Senate Bill 234 remain a major topic of discussion during the breakfast meetings. Jim Allison, general counsel for the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas, gave participants an update of his group's efforts to address the measures, which would largely silence county and other local government voices at the Legislature.
TAC Legislative Consultant Rick Thompson mentioned House Joint Resolution 32. The resolution is a proposed constitutional amendment filed by Reps. Hugh Shine (R-Temple) and Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin) that would prevent the Legislature from imposing unfunded mandates on counties or cities. Attendees that agree with the purpose of the measure were encouraged to talk to their state representatives about seeking their support of HJR 32.
Proposed legislation that would require counties to spend local revenue on state mandated activities include House Bill 277, which would require counties to appoint an attorney for an indigent defendant appearing before a magistrate. Brazos County Justice of the Peace Rick Hill, president of the Justices of the Peace and Constable Association, called the bill "a dramatic unfunded mandate for Texas counties."
And Chambers County Clerk Heather Hawthorne said her group, the County and District Clerks' Association of Texas, was working to determine what unfunded mandates lurk in the bevy of election bills that have been filed to date.
TAC's breakfast meetings are a reminder that what happens at the Capitol has a broad effect on Texas counties. TAC’s Counties at the Capitol Virtual Legislative Day will take the place of next week’s breakfast. The breakfast meetings will resume at 8 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 23.
Please contact Amy Ruedas either by email or by phone at (800) 456-5974 with any questions about the breakfast meetings.