Volume 17, Issue 21 - Friday, May 31, 2019 Optional Link
The Texas Legislature passed a $250.7 billion budget on May 26 and approved several key bills highlighted by property tax relief and school finance reform.

Lawmakers set a 3.5 percent cap on local government property tax hikes and a 2.5 percent limit on school district property tax increases. Only by voter permission can those governments exceed the new maximums.

The taxation limits are part of a $11.6 billion school finance bill that includes an increase in per-student funding, extra compensation for teachers, and additional spending to reduce recapture's impact on school districts.

Adding to the state's spending is a $9.9 billion supplemental appropriations bill tacked on to the previous budget for Medicaid, Hurricane Harvey relief, teacher retirement, and the Texas Tomorrow Fund.

Other notable bills include:
  • Restricting red-light cameras;
  • Allowing off-premise beer sales at craft breweries;
  • Creating a registry for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans to get help who are suffering illnesses as a result of exposure to burn pits;
  • Eliminating a backlog of about 15,000 rape kits; and,
  • Legalizing the medical use of cannabis.
The deadline for Gov. Greg Abbott to sign or veto bills is June 16. After that date, any unsigned bill or bill that is not vetoed becomes law.
Several constitutional amendments set for November ballot
Legislators approved 10 amendments to the Texas Constitution for a Nov. 5 ballot that would include the creation of a $1.7 billion flood infrastructure fund overseen by the Texas Water Development Board, temporary reduction of tax rates on disaster-damaged property, and a ban on a state income tax.

Other amendments would exempt precious metals in the Texas Bullion Depository from taxation, enable one person to be elected as a judge in multiple cities, permit retired police dogs to reside with their handlers, and increase the amount of bonds to $6 billion that may be sold to help fund the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.

If passed, an amendment would raise the Texas General Land Office (GLO) distribution limit to a possible $600 million and allow the State Board of Education (SBOE) to sell bonds for the same reason. Texas parks would benefit from an amendment directing all revenue from sporting goods sales taxes to go to state park operators.

Support from two-thirds of the Texas House and Senate and a voter majority are necessary for constitutional amendments to become law. They do not require the governor's signature with the exception of the GLO and SBOE measures.
Corpus Christi port project to begin
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will provide a huge boost to the Texas economy when it begins deepening the Port of Corpus Christi's channel next week.

The channel, which is now 47 feet, will be deepened to 54 feet thereby allowing large megaships to use the Texas port. Corpus Christi is home to the country's fourth-largest port in total tonnage, and it plays a vital role in the Texas economy. Its importance will only increase in the near future.

New shipping capabilities will benefit energy producers in West Texas, particularly from the Permian and Eagle Ford regions. The port also will positively impact the transportation of single shipments in larger vessels.
$1.1B expansion of Interstate 10 secures El Paso council approval
Rendering of proposed I-10 expansion
El Paso City Council members adopted a resolution May 14 to support the $1.1 billion expansion of Interstate 10 in downtown El Paso.

Some of the project's features include razing blocks of buildings, constructing gateways, and adding a deck park or parks on I-10 from Schuster Avenue to Copia Street.

The project has entered the preliminary planning stages with environmental review scheduled for this summer and a final proposal set for completion by winter 2020, pending Texas Highway Commission authorization and funding. City officials said they are exploring possible public-private partnerships and seeking state and federal grants to fund the proposed deck park.
Rendering of Austin State Hospital
New hospital facilities will replace the dilapidated, 120-year-old San Antonio State Hospital and undersized, aging Austin State Hospital thanks to a $445.3 million appropriations bill legislators passed this session.

San Antonio's project is set to receive nearly $200 million for a 300-bed facility. Construction is scheduled for an October start and November 2022 completion goal.

The Austin plan will get $165 million for the first of two construction phases. Austin's first phase, which will commence this fall, will demolish some campus buildings and erect the shell of a new 375,000-square-foot hospital while preserving the historic original facility. The second phase is expected to cost an additional $120 million, yet to be budgeted.

Funds for both hospitals will come from the state's economic stabilization fund as part of a plan to upgrade Texas' outdated psychiatric hospitals and address increased patient loads.
Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars
Karl Mooney, Mayor, City of College Station

Karl Mooney
Career highlights and education: Certainly, being elected to serve the residents of College Station as their mayor is a career highlight. Becoming mayor only crept into my imagination within the past 20 years when I served on the Planning and Zoning Commission. It was then that I began to think that I might be able to do something positive for my community. 

What I like best about my public service: Being able to respond to the needs of our residents is very satisfying. Although receiving a "thank you" is a rarity, when it does happen I feel blessed to be able to serve.  

The best advice I have received for my current job: Don't expect the people to come to you; you go to the people. That's why in my campaign to become mayor I walked to 8,000 homes. It is also why I still do a monthly "Walk with the Mayor" in a different neighborhood one Sunday afternoon a month.

Advice you would give a new hire in your office: ALWAYS LISTEN! If you are new and you are not listening, you are talking too much.
If I ever had the opportunity to leave work early, I could probably be found: At my other job. Since the mayor of College Station is an unpaid position, I still work at Texas A&M University. If I could, I would rather go home and spend time with my two border collies. 

People would be surprised to know that I: used to play the French horn in the Garden State Philharmonic Orchestra.

One thing I wish more people knew about the City of College StationOur history and the role of the railroad in shaping it. We got our name when, before 1938 when College Station was founded, the train conductor referred to the train stop for the Texas A&M College as the "College Station."
Midway ISD considers $177M bond election in November
Midway ISD trustees have been presented a proposal for a $177 million bond program by an appointed facility study committee to deal with expected growth over the next 10 years. The proposal includes $39.6 million for a new elementary school and $29.9 million to expand River Valley Intermediate to a 6-8 grade middle school. 
It would also provide $18 million to convert Woodgate Intermediate to an elementary school, $17.6 million to renovate Midway Middle School, and $42.8 million to add a Career & Technical Education (CTE) Center at Midway High School. Other funding would include $8 million to replace aging heating and air conditioning systems and do needed roof work, $2.8 million to renovate the Performing Arts Center, and $4.5 million to build a new Technology Data Center. 
Members of the facility study committee are asking trustees to place the $177 million bond election issue on the Nov. 5 ballot. The deadline to call for a November bond election is Aug. 19. 
Proposed Southeast Loop
Williamson County officials on May 29 approved a study on a proposed nine-mile Southeast Loop with connections for east-west routes between State Highway 130 and Farm-to-Market Road 3349 and north-south routes to US 79. The proposed Southeast Loop is estimated to cost $118 million. This will be paid for by the county, state, and federal governments.  
Property owners will be allowed to provide feedback for the project's route concept. An open house will be held from 4-7 p.m. on June 24 at the Hutto ISD Performing Arts Center. Other development in the area includes an industrial park under design at the southeast corner of FM 3349 and US 79 in Taylor. 
The project is hoping to address the growing need for emergency services. Williamson County experienced a 32 percent increase in calls for service over the last four years. The loop will aid law enforcement responding to Hutto and Taylor, specifically to shorten response times for calls for service, such as priority calls. 
UNT officials consider $100M plan for Frisco campus
Rendering of UNT-Frisco campus
A master plan for 100 acres of land donated to develop a University of North Texas (UNT) campus in Frisco has been presented to university regents.

The first-phase plan will cost an estimated $100 million and include roads, parking lots, the first academic building, a nature pavilion, and a footbridge to an incoming mixed-use development. Construction is slated to begin in October 2020 and be completed in November 2022. 
The Board of Regents also reviewed the 20-year plan for building out the entire campus in different phases. The timing and cost of those phases will be based on potential growth. In the full campus plan, officials hope to have several academic buildings, a business conference center, two parking garages, an event quad, and amphitheater while leaving about 45 acres undeveloped. The project will head back to the board in August with more details for approval. 
Rendering of Lakeline Park's north area
Councilmembers in Cedar Park selected a firm on May 23 to design the first phase of the Lakeline Park project that will include $8.55 million in improvements for the park's northern section. Of that amount, $1.05 million will go toward road and utility improvements. Estimates in the park's master plan put total costs at $21.7 million, including construction contingencies and soft costs.

Some of the features in the northern section of the 189-acre park will include a pavilion, multi-purpose practice fields, kayak launch, playground, fishing pier, and wildflower meadows. Funding will come from the city's general obligation bonds, utility fund, and 4B Community Development Board as well as a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department grant. Staff members anticipate it will take two and a half years to complete the entire park project.
New rail stations coming to booming Burnet/Gateway corridor in Austin
Capital Metro and the City of Austin are attempting to keep up with the population growth and new business headquarters coming to the North Burnet/Gateway corridor with two new rail stations in Austin.

The MetroRail Kramer Station could be taken offline and new stations constructed in the Broadmoor Development and McKalla Place. If conversations that Capital Metro officials are having about public-private partnerships move forward, the McKalla Place station would open in 2021 on the Red Line near the city's future major league soccer stadium.

Austin city officials said they are contributing $53 million from 2016 mobility bonds to fund improvements to paths, crosswalks, traffic signals and bus stops along the Burnet Road corridor that are scheduled from 2021 to 2024.
$20M approved for UH College of Medicine
Stephen Spann
On May 26, the Texas Legislature approved $20 million in state funds for the University of Houston's (UH) upcoming College of Medicine to help with start-up costs, including hiring faculty and staff and curriculum development. Earlier this month, Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill creating a medical school at UH that takes effect Sept. 1.

The university will receive $10 million in 2020 and $10 million in 2021. UH officials plan to ask the legislature for an additional $20 million over the next four sessions.

The medical school will be built on a 43-acre tract of undeveloped property just southeast of the campus proper. The chosen property will house a 150,000-square-foot, four-story building and cost an estimated $65 million. Initially, the Health 2 Building on the UH campus will house the College of Medicine until the facility near MacGregor Park is complete.

It is scheduled to open in fall 2020, pending accreditation by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, said Stephen Spann, vice president for medical affairs and founding dean of the College of Medicine.
Palo Pinto Mountains State Park to get $12.5M from state but needs more
Palo Pinto Mountains State Park
The 4,400-acre Palo Pinto Mountains State Park is closer to opening after the Texas Legislature approved legislation this session for $12.5 million in funding. The park, which will be halfway between Fort Worth and Abilene, has been waiting since 2011 for the funds. Lawmakers denied a request for $25 million for the park in its 2017 session.

Despite the new funding, Palo Pinto still needs about $8 million to $10 million in private donations before it can open its gates to the public. Those funds would combine with $5.3 million from the Texas Department of Transportation to construct roads and a camping loop in January 2020.

The sale of land that is now the Tarrant Regional Water District's Eagle Mountain Park provided seed money for the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) to purchase 3,300 acres of the park in 2011. Once developed, the rugged park will offer hiking, camping, fishing, stargazing, and other outdoor activities.

"Part of the agreement on Eagle Mountain was that the state would build a new state park in close driving proximity to Fort Worth, and we are making good on that commitment," said State Sen. Jane Nelson, chairwoman of the Senate Finance Committee.

According to TPWD's webpage for Palo Pinto, the department will need to conduct baseline surveys, create a Public Use Plan to shape its development, and determine a design before construction begins.
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.
Check out our social media links!

By Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc.

According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, America's schools are in dire need of attention.  That's obviously a significant understatement because the report explains that the needs of K-12, the U.S.' second-largest infrastructure sector, will exceed approximately $870 billion between now and the next several years. Of this amount, $490 billion in funding has been identified. Most of it is coming from bond elections that taxpayers have approved.

The Center on Budget Policy and Priorities finds that states and localities spend the vast majority of their capital dollars - nearly half - on schools. In bond elections across 12 states in May, voters widely supported funding requests.

Safety and security upgrades were high priorities and funding was approved for fire alarm systems, bulletproof windows, updated technology in entrances and exits, new lighting, fencing, and modern emergency communications systems. 

Check out this article from our Pipeline newsletter!

Jones tapped as Sunset Advisory Commission chief
Jennifer Jones
Jennifer Grossenbacher Jones has been named as the new executive director of the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission.
Jones had been serving as interim executive director since September when she succeeded former director Ken Levine.

Her nearly 30-year career in the Texas Legislature started with a role as Senate messenger in 1990. In 1993, Jones joined the Sunset Advisory Commission where she has served as policy analyst, senior policy analyst, assistant director, and deputy director.

Jones has overseen Sunset reviews across state government in transportation, health and human services, business and economic development, public safety and criminal justice, and education.
She also serves on the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) Executive Committee, Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee, and Natural Resources and Infrastructure Standing Committee.
Family Protective Services director to leave post June 30
Hank Whitman
Hank Whitman, director of the Texas Department of Family Protective Services, is retiring, effective June 30. Gov. Abbott named Whitman as director of family protective services in 2016.

Prior to that, Whitman served 22 years with the Texas Department of Public Safety - 10 years of it as a Texas Ranger. The U.S. Marine Corps veteran became chief of the Texas Rangers in 2011.

He previously worked as president of a professional security consulting and private investigation firm.

Fort Worth names interim police chief
Ed Kraus
The City of Fort Worth appointed Ed Kraus as its interim police chief at a special City Council meeting on May 28. He replaces former Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald.

Kraus, who has served with the Fort Worth Police Department for 26 years, started his career in law enforcement in 1992 as an officer before becoming a detective and sergeant. He has held command positions as a neighborhood policing district lieutenant, patrol division captain and training division commander. Kraus also has been a deputy chief over the investigative and support command, assistant chief of the Support Bureau, and executive assistant chief over the patrol bureau.

He graduated from the FBI National Academy, the FBI National Executive Institute and the Caruth Police Institute's Leadership Course.
Pflugerville hires 2 new administrators
The city of Pflugerville named two administrators on May 28 in James Hartshorn as assistant city manager and Suzette Robinson as public works director.

James Hartshorn
Hartshorn served as deputy director of management services at the city of Texas City where he oversaw the city's Economic Development Corporation, City Secretary's Office, Municipal Court, and Communications. Prior to that role, he contributed to various statewide publications as a researcher, data analyst, writer, and editor at the State Comptroller of Public Accounts. As assistant city manager, he will oversee the operations of communications, municipal court, information technology, human resources and parks and recreation.

Suzette Robinson
Robinson was the chief operations officer for the DC Department of Transportation, director of public works for the city of Evanston, Illinois, and most recently the administrator for the DC Department of Public Works Fleet Management Administration. She is designated as a Public Works Fellow by the American Public Works Association.

Both Hartshorn and Robinson will start their new positions with Pflugerville in early June.

Kamerlander to lead Lockhart economic development efforts
Mike Kamerlander
The city of Lockhart has selected Mike Kamerlander as its next economic development director.

Kamerlander has served as executive director of the Bastrop Economic Development Corporation (EDC) since September 2018 and, before that, as vice president of the Greater San Marcos Partnership and director of business retention and expansion at the Austin Chamber of Commerce. His resignation from the Bastrop EDC is effective June 6.

He succeeds Rob Tobias, who retired this spring as Lockhart's economic development director.
Howard selected as Longview University Center director
Sherry Howard
The University of Texas at Tyler has hired Sherry Howard to be its new Longview University Center director beginning June 1. She takes over for Van Patterson who accepted a position in Galveston last fall.

Howard previously worked at South Arkansas Community College where she held various positions as the associate vice president for workforce and advancement, dean of workforce and continuing education, and adjunct business communication instructor. Before that she was a bank branch manager in El Dorado, Arkansas, and director of the Arkansas Women's Business Center from 2011 to 2013.

Texas Legislative Budget Board - House Bill 1 (HB1)

Texas Legislature - Legislative Statistics

Federal Communications Commission - 2019 Broadband Deployment Report

Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas - Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey

U.S. Department of Energy - Short-Term Energy Outlook
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 Department of Housing & Community Affairs - Housing Resource Center (HRC) Planner
  • Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts - CPA - Web Administrator
  • Texas Treasury Safekeeping Trust Company - CPA - Trader - Cash Management
  • Texas Treasury Safekeeping Trust Company - General Counsel IV
  • Texas Legislative Council - Automated Data Processing Equipment Operator II-III
  • Ector County Environmental Enforcement Department - Criminal Investigator
  • Texas Department of Housing & Community Affairs - Subrecipient Monitor
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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