Texas state budget: Investing for long-term impacts
Last month, the Texas 2036 policy team testified in support of numerous areas for how legislators can prioritize the estimated $27 billion general revenue surplus.
Throughout the 16 Legislative Appropriations Request hearings we engaged in, Texas 2036 focused on high-ROI investments that can improve agency performance, modernize state technology and help the state tackle generational challenges.
Here’s a breakdown of the hearings we testified at and how additional resources could help each of these priorities.
Texas Water Development Board:
Expanding agency capacity will help TWDB address state water infrastructure needs. These needs include:
- Water supply development
- Flood control mitigation
- Infrastructure repairs
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality:
The commission needs flexibility to hire and retain qualified employees as well as a reevaluation of funding for alternative fuel infrastructure to address the demands of heavy-duty hydrogen fuel cell trucks
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department:
To help preserve public land for economic and environmental benefit, support for park acquisition, development and maintenance as well as conservation programs are critical.
Justice and Safety
Office of Court Administration:
One-time investments in data and IT infrastructure, increasing judicial staff compensation and offering more support for court backlog-related needs would not only address current problems but would set up the judiciary for long-term success.
Texas Department of Criminal Justice:
Pay raises and installation of air conditioning to improve the living conditions of incarcerated Texans and the working conditions of the TDCJ staff are critical to address historic employee turnover.
Texas Department of Family and Protective Services:
State efforts to improve child welfare have been hampered. Why? Antiquated IT systems at DFPS was part of the reason. This is why the state should invest in a comprehensive and modern data infrastructure to help the agency better serve Texas children for years to come.
Texas Commission on Law Enforcement:
To improve both law enforcement data quality and the effectiveness of state support, oversight and regulation of agencies and peace officers, TCOLE’s requests for expanded data and IT capacity and agency staff raises are key.
Education and Workforce
Texas Education Agency:
Strategic investments in public education include:
- A transition to higher quality curriculum
- Continued investments in Tri-Agency Workforce Initiative
- Data infrastructure
- Embedding resources to support schools recovering from academic learning loss
Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board:
To help support the Tri-Agency Workforce Initiative, it needs improved education and workforce data as well as funding for innovative short-term education and training and dedicated resources in small and rural counties.
Texas Association of Community Colleges:
The Texas Commission on Community College Finance offers transformative recommendations to reform the state’s community college finance system, which require investments to implement.
Texas Workforce Commission:
To address workforce needs, investments are needed to provide access to pre-apprenticeship career pathways, establish industry recognized apprenticeship programs and improve state labor market data specific to linkages between education/training programs and occupations.
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts:
Adding more full-time employees in the Broadband Development Office will help them more efficiently allocate the recent influx of federal broadband funding and speed up implementation of the state’s broadband plan.
Improving regulatory oversight during a time of an expanding energy industry includes investments in IT modernization and employee growth.
Teacher Retirement System:
Reforming plan benefit design could help stem rising costs by improving the value teachers receive from their health benefits.
The possible wins:
- Teacher paychecks could be stretched further.
- Districts could be aided with recruitment and retention.
Employee Retirement System:
To improve the affordability and quality of state employee health care, ERS must receive clear legislative direction and support to redesign benefit plans in a way that reduces costs without cutting benefits.
Department of Information Resources:
Additional funding will ensure that each state agency has the technology they need to fight off cyber criminals and efficiently provide services to the citizens of Texas.
Want to see all our Legislative Appropriations Requests testimonies? Find these testimonies and other Texas 2036 documents in our Resource Library at texas2036.org/resources.