House interim committee charges released

The following is TSTA’s analysis of education-related interim committee charges for the Texas House of Representatives, released Oct. 20, 2011.

House Committee on Pensions, Investments & Financial Services

Monitor all agencies and programs under the committee’s jurisdiction. Specifically, monitor the study by the Employees Retirement System of Texas and the Teacher Retirement System of Texas of the viability of the current defined benefit plans as well as the implications and feasibility of creating a defined contribution or hybrid plan.

House Committee on Public Education

Conduct a review of the University Interscholastic League (UIL) and make recommendations as needed.

Monitor state and local implementation of the new state assessment system (STAAR), specifically the impact on students, instruction, teachers, and graduation or promotion rates. Review how districts are implementing the requirement that the end-of-course assessment count for 15 percent of the student’s course grade. Recommend any changes to graduation or testing requirements that promote instructional rigor and support postsecondary readiness while appropriately limiting an overreliance on standardized testing.

Evaluate the charter schools system in Texas. Examine success and failure stories in Texas and other states. Review the educational outcomes of students in charter schools compared to those in traditional schools. Identify any best practices and how those practices may be applied statewide. The study should include recommendations.

Review and make recommendations on the effectiveness of Disciplinary Alternative Education Programs (DAEPs) and Juvenile Justice Alternative Education Programs (JJAEPs) in reducing students’ involvement in further disciplinary infractions. Determine the appropriate role of disciplinary alternative placements in promoting education achievement and how technology could be used to supplement education services. Consider appropriate placements in DAEPs or JJAEPs and consistent funding models for those programs. Consider options for counties without a JJAEP or inefficiently few placements in a JJAEP. Identify positive behavioral models that promote a learning environment for teachers to appropriately instruct while addressing any behavioral issues and enforcing student discipline.

Review methods and best practices in Texas and other states to encourage more parental and community involvement in the education of Texas children.

Monitor the agencies and programs under the committee’s jurisdiction and the implementation of relevant legislation passed by the 82nd Legislature.

House Committee on Higher Education

Review the various research funding programs available to institutions of higher education. Analyze the effectiveness of each program and recommend whether state funding should be continued. Consider whether the investments made in these programs are attracting research projects to Texas and whether more emphasis should be placed on policies that attract outside research funding to Texas. Consider whether maintaining multiple programs dilutes the state’s efforts to attract groundbreaking research to Texas.

Review potential improvements to transfer pathways within the state’s higher education system. Examine the impact of transferability on timely degree completion. Study and recommend strategies to improve the “2+2” model as a low-cost degree option.

Evaluate proposals for the state’s next master plan for higher education beyond 2015, including a review of various metrics to measure successful outcomes in higher education.

Evaluate the funding, performance, and administration of the state’s adult basic education programs. (Joint with the House Committee on Appropriations)

Examine the impact of research at state universities on the state economy. Identify ways to increase the partnership opportunities between private business and research institutions to enhance the commercialization of newly discovered technology. (Joint with the House Committee on Economic & Small Business Development)

Monitor the agencies and programs under the committee’s jurisdiction and the implementation of relevant legislation passed by the 82nd Legislature.

House Committee on Ways & Means

Evaluate the state’s tax structure and determine its impact on the competitiveness of the Texas business climate. Specifically, determine the impact of the state’s major taxes, including the sales tax and franchise tax, as well as tax exemptions, exclusions, and credits on economic growth, capital investment, and job creation in Texas. As part of this review, evaluate the franchise (margins) tax and determine whether the tax structure should continue to exist in its current form or in a revised form, or whether the existing tax structure should be repealed and replaced with a different business tax.

Analyze increases in Texas’ overall state debt burden and the role debt plays in the state’s fiscal management. Recommend strategies to reduce the state’s debt, as well as the calculation of the constitutional debt limit. (Joint with the House Committee on Appropriations)

Monitor the agencies and programs under the committee’s jurisdiction and the implementation of relevant legislation passed by the 82nd Legislature.

House Committee on Appropriations

Analyze increases in Texas’ overall state debt burden and the role debt plays in the state’s fiscal management. Recommend strategies to reduce the state’s debt, as well as the calculation of the constitutional debt limit. (Joint with the House Committee on Ways & Means)

Examine the immediate and long-term impact to the Texas budget of the Budget Control Act of 2011 and other efforts to reduce the federal deficit.

Examine the investment and management of funds held outside the treasury, including whether the funds are being utilized for their statutory or constitutional purposes, and whether opportunities exist to utilize these funds in the state budget to reduce the demand on General Revenue.

Examine the growth of constitutionally and statutorily dedicated accounts and their utilization in the budget. Recommend methods to reduce the reliance on dedicated accounts for budget certification purposes, and examine ways to maximize the use of such accounts.

Examine ways to minimize the timing imbalance of the state’s revenues and expenditures, and recommend policies that will minimize the annual short-term borrowing need.

Evaluate the funding, performance, and administration of the state’s adult basic education programs. (Joint with the House Committee on Higher Education)

Review the current practices for funding capital construction projects at institutions of higher education and make recommendations for alternative approaches, including prioritizing funding projects aimed at strategic statewide goals.

Monitor the performance of state agencies and institutions, including operating budgets, plans to carry out legislative initiatives and planned budget reductions, caseload projections, performance measure attainment, implementation of all rider provisions, and any other matter affecting the fiscal condition of the agencies and the state.