Volume 17, Issue 20 - Friday, May 24, 2019 Optional Link
Texas legislators announced May 23 that they reached an agreement on an $11 billion school finance bill and found a way to lower property taxes days before the session is set to close. However, a vote has not been taken.

State officials released some details of HB3's reforms to trim recapture, or Robin Hood, by $3.6 billion (47 percent), to increase state spending on education from 38 percent to 45 percent over the next two years, and to direct money to educating students from low-income families. The plan also includes more than $2 billion in teacher raises - $4,000 available for veteran teachers and a 13th check to retired teachers.

Lawmakers are proposing property tax relief by limiting increases to school property taxes to 2.5 percent and city and county property tax hikes to 3.5 percent. Any increases that exceed these caps would require local rollback elections.
Nine states and two territories will have to wait until early June for a second vote by Congress on a $19.1 billion disaster relief package, which would have sent $4 billion to areas of Texas hit hard by hurricanes.

Already passed by the U.S. Senate on May 23, the vote came before the U.S. House when U.S. Rep. Chip Roy, R-Austin, cast the sole vote required to hold up the bill - a move that came before Congress adjourned for a Memorial Day break.

Texans in the Senate and House were focused on a provision in the bill that set a 90-day deadline for the Office of Management and Budget to release billions of dollars in grant monies. That timeline, combined with the delay caused by Roy's vote, would push the disbursement of funds further into the hurricane season in Texas.
Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) will join with a major airline carrier to invest $3 billion to $3.5 billion to build a sixth terminal, F, and enhance Terminal C to keep up with record-setting use.

Design work will begin immediately on the new Terminal F to be located south of Terminal D to allow for up to 24 gates based on demand. The new terminal is set to open as early as 2025, according to a press release from the airport. DFW welcomed 69 million customers in 2018, and officials projected it will serve 73 million people in 2019.

The partners expect bonds to finance the investment and airline rates and charges to repay the bond over its lifespan.
Collin County bracing for $2.6B U.S. 380 bypass alignment
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has restructured its five previous alignment plans for U.S. 380 in Collin County into one that includes a 33-mile bypass from the Denton County border to the Hunt County line.

Prosper is the start of TxDOT's suggested alignment for the bypass that would travel east until it hits McKinney where it turns north. Then, it would veer east at Bloomdale Road until it reaches U.S. 75. At that point it would curve south and rejoin U.S. 380.

Officials said the recommended alignment is expected to cost $2.6 billion.
After collecting public input, TxDOT officials said they are targeting this spring to finalize a project implementation plan including recommended alignments.

Before starting construction, state coordinators would divvy the bypass into separate projects and rank them before commissioning an environmental study and design schematics.
Austin Council votes for $1.2B Convention Center expansion plan
Austin Convention Center
Momentum is building for a proposed expansion of the Austin Convention Center with a unanimous vote by the City Council for a $1.2 billion plan on May 23.

Councilmembers authorized city staff members to research financing for the expansion as the next step in the process. The council's vote represents a recent shift in support for the project after a resolution by City Councilmember Kathie Tovo directed staff to act on a $1.5 billion option that was part of a University of Texas at Austin study released in March.

The option calls for demolition and rebuilding on the current Convention Center site and expanding its footprint in the process. The project would build a new center west of Trinity, demolish the existing facility east of Trinity, and orient the new facility toward the Waller Creek Corridor while preserving the historic Palm School. Other features would include a new pedestrian promenade at Neches Street, one block for public event space, one block for a public-private partnership opportunity, a new public pavilion on the park and below-grade service and parking.

At its meeting last week, the Austin Tourism Commission lent its support to the plan by voting to recommend that the City Council adopt the UT report and implement the Visitor Impact Task Force's findings. The task force advised that the expansion costs could come from a 2 percentage point hike in Austin's hotel occupancy tax.
Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars
Jodi Ashlock, Director of Information Technology Transformation, Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR)

Jodi Ashlock
Career highlights and education: My career started many years ago when I was selected to be a computer programmer in the U.S. Air Force. This led to a lifelong interest in technology.

Once out of the Air Force I spent several years in the private sector, arriving in Texas 22 years ago as a consultant. My state service career began at the Texas Workforce Commission, and I then spent time in operations at Texas Health and Human Services Commission, followed by a stint as the information resources manager at Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services. My current position as the chief information officer at TDLR is actually my dream job; it is the fulfillment of a goal made many years ago.

I went to school later in life, and in addition to a bachelor of science degree in management information sciences, I attained my MBA at St. Edwards University in 2002. I hold several professional certifications: Certified Scrum Master, Project Management Professional, and Certified Texas Contract Manager are just a few.

What I like best about my public service: In addition to a fundamental desire to help people, I believe that government employees can make a difference in the lives of everyday citizens. While my focus and work are primarily in the technology sector, knowing that those technologies help staff do a better job for the constituents we serve is what drives me to continue to find solutions that meet their needs.  

The best advice I have received for my current job: Be cool in a crisis. In a technology leadership role there are challenges and stressful situations. My team knows that my approach in those stressful situations is to find out the facts, see how to move forward and then learn from what happened.

Advice you would give a new hire in your office: Make sure you have work-life balance. Computers never sleep. There is always going to be something important that needs to be worked on, so it can be difficult to work "just" a 40-hour week in information technology. The work will be there tomorrow; your family and friends may not be.
If I ever had the opportunity to leave work early, I could probably be found: walking on the Lady Bird Lake hike and bike trail. We recently moved closer in to downtown, and having access to the trail is one of the great joys of living in our new neighborhood. 

People would be surprised to know that I: have an introverted side and love to read. I've been an avid reader since childhood and spent a lot of time in libraries growing up - yes, I won most of those summer reading contests. I read probably one to two-plus books a week. 

One thing I wish more people knew about the Texas Department of Licensing and RegulationTDLR has an amazing culture. From the top executive leadership to the entry level staff, we embrace the core values of the agency and work towards doing a better job every day.
Two newly created state funds could be the source of billions in disaster relief if legislation passed last week by the Texas House advances.

The Flood Infrastructure Fund would pull $3.3 billion from the state's rainy day fund, aka the Economic Stabilization Fund. The Texas Infrastructure Fund would grant cities, counties, and other political bodies the right to apply to the Texas Water Development Board for grants or low- or zero-interest loans.

Senators also are drafting SB8 to fund state flood plan initiatives under a plan akin to the State Water Plan. Regions around the state would be invited to submit proposals to the Texas Water Development Board for approval.
Harris County expediting flood control projects from $2.5B bond
Backed by a 2018 bond for $2.5 billion in flood control projects, officials with the Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) are exploring ways to get the majority of proposed initiatives underway within five years.

More than 230 projects were identified in the referendum that laid out a 10-year plan for execution. However, officials aim to shorten that timeline and overcome hiring challenges by executing contracts with engineering firms to provide engineers and laborers.

Despite the progress, HCFCD is competing with state agencies, water authorities, and private developers to hire additional civil engineers.
Aledo ISD lines up November bond to head off overcapacity at schools
Bearcat Growth Committee
Bond advisory committee members told Aledo ISD trustees May 21 that they could be ready to present a bond package in August in preparation for a November referendum.

The Bearcat Growth Committee recently learned that the district's bond capacity could be up to $141.82 million with new elementary and junior high campuses high on the priority list.

A demographer's projections estimate the district's enrollment will climb from 6,000 this school year to 8,000 in the 2022-2023 school year, according to the district's website. Three of the district's five elementary campuses are expected to exceed functional student capacity within three years. Aledo Middle School could exceed functional capacity in the 2019-2020 school year and maximum capacity the following school year.
Conroe envisions hotel-convention center partnership to boost tourism
City of Conroe officials are working with a consulting firm to develop a business plan for a $86.2 million convention center and hotel.

The draft outlines a 252-room seven-story hotel and 31,000 square feet of meeting space with a host of amenities including a parking garage, lounge, bar, restaurant, and pool.

Under the business plan, the city would own the land and lease it to a hotelier in a public-private partnership. Bond sales and hotel occupancy taxes would finance the project. As the owner, the city would be entitled to sell the development after the 30-year agreement expires.

City officials estimated construction costs at $71.9 million with design and remaining costs at $14.3 million.
UT allocates $20M to Army Futures Command research partnership
Anna Hiss Gymnasium rendering
The University of Texas System Board of Regents committed an additional $20 million on May 23 to the system's partnership with Army Futures Command. The dedication adds to their previous commitment of $30 million to faculty and research related to their agreement with the Army.

As a hub for research in robotics and assured positioning, navigation, and timing, The University of Texas at Austin will assist in developing new technologies for soldiers in combat and researching hypersonics, artificial intelligence and biodefense. A robotics research center is planned for the university's Anna Hiss Gymnasium where students and faculty will work with Army personnel. An additional facility will be housed in the J.J. Pickle Research Campus.

In addition, the university will hire eight faculty members in five years for collaborative research with the Futures Command.
Garland solicits I-30-Rosehill development partner with RFP
I-30 and Rosehill Road
The city of Garland published a request for proposals (RFP) earlier this month seeking a master partner to develop a mixed-use, commercially anchored project on 20 acres the city owns at the high-traffic Interstate 30 and Rosehill Road intersection.

Bordered by a new Parcs at Rosehill residential development that will construct 128 new single-family homes starting at $300,000 and a surrounding area that includes more than $200 million in additional new residential development, the site is in a recently adopted Planned Development District and allows for various permitted uses including hospitality, retail, or office space.

RFP documents state the land is undeveloped, but it has all major utilities in place. Deadline for responses is June 27. This site "provides a blank slate for the right team to create something that will have a long lasting impact on the southern part of the community," Garland Director of Economic Development wrote in the RFP introduction.
TPWD disbursing $3.81M in grants to trail projects
Motorized and non-motorized recreational trail-related projects will receive $3.81 million in grant funding from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. 

TPWD commissioners recently approved the projects that will receive National Recreational Trails Fund (NRTF) funds for trail construction, renovation, and purchase.

Some of the projects include the city of Port Lavaca's Bayfront Park Trail, which will receive $200,000 for a new 1-mile walking trail and other amenities.

A motorized trails coalition in Crockett County will receive $399,000 for 4 miles of new off-highway vehicle (OHV) trails, resurfacing of trailhead roads, endangered species survey, and other features at the Escondido Draw Recreation Area.

More than $160,000 will go to Trophy Club Park to renovate .9 miles of road surface and replace three pavilions, and the city of El Paso will receive a $400,000 grant for the San Felipe Park OHV Trails to add 10 miles of OHV trails, a youth rider trail and other facilities.

For a complete list of projects, click here.
June 12 & 13 / Georgetown, Texas
Plan to join the Texas K-12 Chief Technology Officers (CTO) Council in Georgetown for their Summer Clinic 2019! The event will be held at the Georgetown Sheraton Hotel and Conference Center, 1101 Woodlawn Ave. on June 12 and 13. This annual event is the premier professional training conference for technology education leaders in Texas, bringing together leaders from around the state and the region to discuss pressing issues in education technology. 

This year the clinic will focus on building a "trusted learning environment" that includes physical, network, and data security. Register for the event here.
P3 Airport Summit
July 22 & 23 / San Diego, California
The P3 Airport Summit returns July 22-23, 2019 in San Diego at the Manchester Grand Hyatt. With over 1,000 participating delegates, the Summit is attended by owners, operators, airlines, state and local infrastructure leaders, and public-private partnership (P3) experts.

This year's program explores many recent examples of P3 airport transactions in the United States, airport infrastructure issues faced nationwide, use of innovations in project delivery, procurement, life-cycle asset management, technology as solutions for pressing issues, and more.
The P3 Airport Summit is one of the largest gatherings of airport and industry development professionals in the country. With more than 125-plus speakers addressing the critical principles behind successful public-private partnerships, the program will serve as a guide to the current trends, challenges, and opportunities in the P3 aviation market.
Register by Friday, June 7 to save up to $200 on your registration.
2019 Texas Public Owners Conference
August 8 & 9 / Fort Worth, Texas
The Institute for Leadership in Capital Projects (I-LinCP) is taking early bird registration for its 2019 Texas Public Owners Conference on Aug. 8-9 at the Sheraton Fort Worth Downtown Hotel, 1701 Commerce St., Fort Worth, Texas 76102.

The conference theme is "The Bridge Over Troubled Waters: Project Delivery to Operations." Municipalities, counties, ISD's and other public entities will come together to share what they know, and to define what they want to know more about regarding capital project planning design, delivery, and operations. I-LinCP is a nonprofit organization serving the Texas region to better the capital projects industry. 

Early bird registration is available through July 19 for public facility owners at $125 per person and $275 for all others. Tables are $1,375.
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By Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc.

New trends and contracting opportunities related to public safety all seem to revolve around technology and construction. Thousands of immediate contracting opportunities exist, and they may be found throughout the country at every jurisdictional level of government.
Citizens expect to be protected from crime, weather, traffic hazards, fire, and every type of disaster. Taxpayers demand safe schools, clean water, well-lit streets, and convenient health-care facilities. With budgets stretched to the limit, public officials are scrambling to find ways to enhance every aspect of public safety and deliver citizen services.
Most emergency events involve 911 calls, and it is easy for such calls to overwhelm dispatchers. As a way to respond more effectively, most large cities have 311 networks for citizen requests for assistance that do not relate to life-threatening emergencies. Even so, dispatchers and first responders struggle with outdated technology and equipment.

Check out this article from our Pipeline newsletter!

A&M not renewing president's contract
Michael Young
University system officials informed Texas A&M President Michael Young that his contract will not be renewed when it ends in April 2020.

Young, who took office as president in May 2015, is currently serving a five-year contract that pays him $1 million a year. According to media reports, his term was soon to be renewed for another five years unless either party provided notice of termination before April 30.

University Chancellor John Sharp wrote a letter in April to Young in which he told him of the decision and welcomed Young to see out the remainder of his agreement and then transition to a tenured faculty position at the university.

The Harvard Law School graduate previously served as president and professor at the universities of Washington and Utah following a position as dean and professor at the George Washington University Law School. Prior to that, he was a Columbia University professor for more than 20 years.
HHSC taps 2 veteran leaders for top posts
Two experienced human services executives assumed new leadership positions at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) on May 16.

HHSC Executive Commissioner Courtney Phillips named Ruth Johnson as the agency's chief operating officer. 
Ruth Johnson
Johnson, who previously held positions at the states of Louisiana and South Carolina during her 30 years of service, will begin June 3. She succeeds Chief Policy Officer Victoria Ford, who served as interim chief operating officer from April 2018 to May 2019.

Phillips promoted Kelly
Kelly Garcia
Garcia to deputy executive 
commissioner of Health, 
and Independence 
Services, effective immediately. Garcia was serving in a dual role as interim deputy executive commissioner over those services and as HHSC's deputy chief of program and services. She began at HHSC as an adviser to the executive commissioner in 2013 and advanced to director of government and stakeholder relations and director of operations and policy for the Medical and Social Services division.
Beaumont port board adds new commissioners
Pat Anderson
Port of Beaumont Director Chris Fisher swore in Pat Anderson and David Willard as new port commissioners May 20.

Anderson, who was elected to his first term on the board in 2013, will serve as Ward 2 commissioner for a second tenure, and 
David Willard
Willard joins the board in an at-large position. Both will serve six-year terms.

After 30 years of employment at a chemical plant, Anderson retired to work in sales for a printing company and serve as a full-time volunteer deputy sheriff for Jefferson County. Willard has 30 years of experience in education. He is the middle school dean of students at a private school in Beaumont and is on the board of a regional health system.

Heath selects Adams to be new city manager
Aretha Adams
Aretha Adams is the new city manager for the city of Heath after a national search. Adams began her new role on May 6 and enjoyed a welcome reception on May 14.

Her 12-plus years of experience in municipal management includes serving most recently as town manager for Sykesville, Maryland, and in administration with the cities of Corinth, Lancaster, and McKinney.

She is a member of the International City County Management Association (ICMA) and an ICMA Local Government Management Fellow.
A&M selects Mendoza as board of regents chair
Elaine Mendoza
The Texas A&M University System elected Elaine Mendoza as its new board of regents chairwoman May 17 to a term that expires February 1, 2023.

Mendoza was appointed to the Board of Regents by Governor Ricky Perry in 2011 and reappointed by Governor Greg Abbott in 2017. She served two terms as vice chairwoman of the board from 2015 to 2019. She is serving a fourth term as chairwoman of the Committee on Academic and Student Affairs. She is a member of the Committee on Audit and serves as a liaison to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Mendoza also serves on the University Lands Advisory Board.

The Texas A&M alumna is the founder, president, and CEO of a biotechnology and medical informatics company in San Antonio.
Klein losing Champion as superintendent
Bret Champion
Bret Champion announced on May 21 that he is leaving his post as Klein ISD's superintendent to accept a leadership position with the Medford School District in Oregon.

Champion's decision comes after the Klein board of trustees on April 8 extended his contract to January 2024.

He joined the district as superintendent in 2016 following previous positions in Leander ISD for 23 years as superintendent, teacher, principal, and assistant superintendent.

The Klein ISD board president said board members had begun searching for a replacement, posted the position internally May 22, and set a goal of selecting a lone finalist in June.
Wimberley ISD appoints chief financial officer
Moises Santiago
Moises Santiago has been named chief financial officer (CFO) of Wimberley ISD.

Santiago possesses 12 years of experience in finance, payroll, investment portfolios, budgeting and personnel management, according to a district press release. He recently served as business manager at La Pryor ISD and CFO for Uvalde CISD.

He replaces Randall Rau who worked as the district's CFO until accepting a position as Hayes CISD's chief financial officer in April. Santiago is a Registered Texas School Business Administrator with the Texas Association of School Business Officials.

Gov. Greg Abbott has announced the following appointments/reappointments from May 17 - May 23

Will Conley - Jobs and Education for Texans Grant Program Advisory Board 

Chantel Bailey - Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science Advisory Board

Lonnie Hsia - OneStar National Service Commission 

Lori Stevens - OneStar National Service Commission

Kirk Beckert - OneStar National Service Commission, reappointed

Ronnie Hagerty - OneStar National Service Commissionreappointed

Roger O'Dell - OneStar National Service Commissionreappointed

Elexis Grimes - OneStar Foundation

Michael Parker - OneStar Foundation

Robert G. "Bob" Wright, II - OneStar Foundation, reappointed

Yvonne S. "Bonnie" Brown - OneStar Foundation, reappointed

Benjamin A. Montanez - OneStar Foundation, reappointed

Randy H. Skinner 
OneStar Foundation, reappointed
U.S. Census Bureau - Population Estimates for Cities and Towns

National League of Cities - State of the Cities 2019

Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas - Texas Economic Indicators

Transportation for America & Taxpayers for Common Sense - Repair Priorities - 2019

Legislative Budget Board - Fiscal Impact of Hurricane Harvey on State Agencies

Legislative Budget Board - Overview of Opioid Crisis in Texas

Texas Health and Human Services Commission - Texas Women's Health Programs Report Fiscal Year 2018

Dozens of public-sector jobs are available. Click here to view all job openings and guidelines for job submissions to SPI. New jobs added this week:  
  • Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts - CPA - Web Administrator
  • Texas Department of Information Resources - IT Security Analyst II
  • Texas Department of Information Resources - Contract Specialist V (Contract Manager)
  • Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts - Financial Reporting Analyst/Accountant VI-VII
  • Office of the Texas Governor - Grant Coordinator (Grant Coordinator II)
View our Texas Government Insider and Government Contracting Pipeline newsletter archives

Texas Government Insider is a free weekly newsletter detailing important happenings throughout the state and summarizing current political issues relevant to individuals interested in government.   
Publisher: Mary Scott Nabers
Editor: Devin Monk 
TGI is published by Strategic Partnerships, Inc. (SPI), a research and consulting firm. Founded in Texas in 1995 by former government executives and public sector experts, SPI has developed a national reputation as the premier marketing partner dedicated to helping companies secure contracts in the $1.5 trillion state and local government marketplace.   
To learn more about SPI services, click here or contact our sales department at 512-531-3900. 
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