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2 Document(s) [ Subject: Local government debt ]

Committee: Senate Finance
Title: Interim Report
Subjects: Franchise taxes | Information Resources, Texas Department of | Local government debt | Medical education | Mental health services | Pension liabilities | Property taxes | Sales taxes | State budgets | State government debt | State purchasing | Tax and expenditure limits | Tax holidays |
Library Call Number: L1836.84 F49
Session: 84th R.S. (2015)
Online version: View report [86 pages]
Charges: This report should address the charges below.
1. Property Tax Process: Study the property tax process, including the appraisal system, and recommend ways to promote transparency, simplicity, and accountability by all taxing entities. (Charge to a select subcommittee on Property Tax Reform and Relief)
2. Reduce Tax Burden: Examine and develop options to further reduce the tax burden on property owners. (Charge to a select subcommittee on Property Tax Reform and Relief)
3. Franchise Tax: Study the benefits, including the dynamic effects, of continuing to phase out the franchise tax. Consider alternate approaches to funding the Property Tax Relief Fund.
4. Spending Limit: Examine options and make recommendations for strengthening restriction on appropriations established in Article VIII Section 22 of the state constitution, including related procedures defined in statute. Consider options for ensuring available revenues above spending limit are reserved for tax relief.
5. Fiscal Responsibility: Review the budgeting format of other states, such as whether they use strategy-based budgeting, program-based budgeting, or some other approach and discuss the level of transparency with each approach. Review and make recommendations to reduce state debt liabilities, including state pension liability. Consider how to incentivize state agencies, boards, and commissions to identify and realize savings to taxpayers.
6. Coordinating Behavioral Health Services and Expenditures: Monitor the state's progress in coordinating behavioral health services and expenditures across state government, pursuant to Article IX Sec. 10.04. Identify ways state agencies that provide mental health services are collaborating and taking steps to eliminate redundancy, create efficiency, utilize best practices, ensure optimal service delivery, and demonstrate expenditures are coordinated and in furtherance of a behavioral health statewide strategic plan. Identify barriers that prevent the coordination of behavioral health services. Make recommendations to maximize use of state funding for mental health.
7. Sales Tax Holiday: Review the state's current sales tax holiday structure and determine its economic benefit to the state. Evaluate and consider the merits of any potential expansion of the tax holiday either in the application of the sales tax exemption or the timing of the holiday.
8. Monitoring Charge: Monitor the implementation of legislation addressed by the Senate Finance Committee during the 84th Legislature, Regular Session and make recommendations for any legislation needed to improve, enhance, and/or complete implementation. Specifically, monitor the following: 1) Tax relief provided to property owners; 2) The gradual phase out of the franchise tax; 3) Support for and the enhancement of graduate medical education; 4) Efforts of the Department of Information Resources (DIR) to modernize the technology of state agencies; 5) The implementation of required changes to state agency contracting, purchasing, and accounting procedures; and 6) Monitor the implementation of Health and Human Services Commission Rider 50.
Committee: Senate Intergovernmental Relations
Title: Interim Report
Subjects: Affordable housing | Ballots | Bond elections | Emergency management | Extraterritorial jurisdiction | Housing and Community Affairs, Texas Department of | Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Department of | Initiative and referendum | Local government debt | Municipal annexation | Municipal government | Municipalities | Public improvement districts | Public notices | Racial discrimination | Supreme Court decisions, U.S. |
Library Call Number: L1836.84 L786
Session: 84th R.S. (2015)
Online version: View report [31 pages]
Charges: This report should address the charges below.
1. Annexation: Identify areas of concern in regards to statutory extraterritorial jurisdiction expansion and the processes used by municipalities for annexation, specifically reviewing whether existing statute strikes the appropriate balance between safeguarding private property rights and encouraging orderly growth and economic development. Make recommendations for legislative action, if necessary.
2. Local Ordinance Integrity: Examine the processes used by home rule municipalities to adopt ordinances, rules, and regulations, including those initiated by petition and voter referendum. Determine if additional statutory safeguards are necessary to ensure that ballot language accurately describes proposed initiatives. Identify ways to improve transparency and make recommendations, if needed, to ensure that local propositions and the means by which they are put forth to voters, conform with existing state law.
3. Disaster Preparedness Planning and Coordination: Review natural disaster preparedness planning and coordination in the wake of a growing range of threats. Evaluate whether existing processes maximize regional cooperation to rebuild housing and infrastructure, and allow for the timely dissemination of funds to units of local governments for reconstruction following a federal declaration. Develop recommendations, if necessary, to improve the efficiency of disaster recovery efforts, incorporating best practices identified from other states, as well as lessons-learned from past reconstruction efforts in Texas.
4. Municipal Management Districts: Study the means by which the Texas Legislature reviews the creation of municipal management districts (MMDs) by special law to determine if different processes should be used to evaluate new MMDs created within populated or developed areas from those created over undeveloped areas. Identify ways to better assess how the services and improvements of a proposed Page 5 of 5 MMD within populated or developed areas will supplement and enhance those provided by other local governments, as well as if the territory of the proposed MMD encompasses or overlaps area that is already within other assessment or taxing entities. Make recommendations, if necessary, to improve the notice provided to individuals and businesses within populated or developed areas proposed for inclusion in an MMD.
5. Supreme Court ICP Ruling: Review existing statute and rules that govern the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs in light of the recent Supreme Court decision in Inclusive Communities Project, Inc. vs. TDHCA, et al. and recommend if any modifications are necessary to conform to the decision.
6. Debt Transparency in the Voting Booth: Examine ways to improve government accountability in elections regarding the issuance of public debt. Include a review of the information that is currently provided to individuals in the voting booth and provide statutory recommendations, if necessary, to improve transparency.

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