Finance Committee Receives Interim Charges

October 14, 2015

AUSTIN — The Senate Finance Committee, led by Texas State Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, has received its interim assignments — a list of issues to be reviewed in depth in the months leading up to the next legislative session in January 2017.

"This list places a strong emphasis on the principles that have helped our economy succeed — fiscal discipline and responsible tax policy. It also allows us to explore ways to maximize our investment in mental health," Senator Nelson said. "We will have a robust discussion of these issues over the interim period with the goal of finding solutions to better meet our needs, strengthen our economy and craft a responsible budget."

Senate committees are charged with presenting their recommendations to the next Legislature by December 1, 2016. Following are the charges assigned to the Senate Finance Committee:

  • 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. 
  • Reduce Tax Burden: Examine and develop options to further reduce the tax burden on property owners.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. 
  • 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.

The full list of charges released for Senate committees can be found at the Texas Senate online at http://www.senate.state.tx.us/