I’d like to start this column by recognizing a dedicated public servant and a true servant leader for our region of the state — my dear friend and colleague, Rep. James White. As you may know, James recently announced his immediate resignation from the Texas House of Representatives so that he could assume a new position as the Executive Director of the Texas Funeral Services Commission. Having served alongside James these last few sessions in the Texas House, I have the deepest admiration and respect for him. I hope you will join me in thanking him for his public service and wishing him well in this new chapter of his life.
For citizens in Tyler and Polk Counties, my office is standing by to assist and serve you. I encourage you to reach out to either my district or Capitol office should you need help with a state agency or have a legislative issue to discuss.
With that, we’ll dive back into our examination of House interim charges. . .
House Interim Charge: Appropriations
With the start of a new fiscal year this month, I thought it would be appropriate to explore the House Appropriations Committee for this week’s column. The largest of all House Committees, this 27-member committee has jurisdiction over all legislation pertaining to the spending of taxpayer dollars and developing our biennial budget for the state. Over the interim, the House Appropriations Committee has been tasked with an ambitious list of charges ranging from reviewing provisions in our current state budget to examining the long-term capital needs of various state agencies.
During the interim, a majority of the work is driven by interim assignments given by the Speaker’s office, as well as work being done with the Legislative Budget Board and the Comptroller of Public Accounts to formulate a base budget for the upcoming legislative session. In July, Comptroller Hegar provided legislators with an updated Certified Revenue Estimate indicating a record $27 billion surplus heading into the 2023 legislative session. While any surplus is certainly welcome news, members of this committee will be responsible for determining which priorities, and at what level, revenue collections should be allocated, saved, or given back to taxpayers.
Members of the Committee are also tasked with reviewing the utilization of federal COVID-19 relief funds used by the Texas Education Agency and local school districts to address students’ learning loss and mental health needs. The Committee will also be looking at the conditions of our state parks, examining the criteria used by the Texas Water Development Board to make loan and grant awards, and finally, completing the study of several charges related to our border with Mexico.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office if we can help you in any way. My district office may be reached at (936) 634-2762. Additionally, I welcome you to follow along on my Official Facebook Page, where I will be posting regular updates on what’s happening in your State Capitol and sharing information that could be useful to you and your family: https://www.facebook.com/RepTrentAshby/.