Senate Finance Meets, Hears Testimony on Budget
The Texas Senate Finance Committee met this week for a first look at the proposed state budget for FY 2018-2019. On Monday, the committee heard invited testimony from the Legislative Budget Board and the Department of State Health Services. Today, members of the public were invited to provide testimony on the budgets for all health and human services agencies, including the Department of State Health Services (DSHS).
Dr. Jeff Beeson, DO, traveled to Austin today to testify to the needs of the state trauma and emergency healthcare system. He highlighted the overall need for continued funds for a growing state population, focusing on the EMS and Trauma Care Tobacco Endowment Fund 5046 and the Designated Trauma Facility and EMS Account 5111. Dr. Beeson also detailed the important work of the RACs, stressing the need for a specific appropriation to continue services and cover the growing responsibilities placed upon them.
Over the last several budget cycles, the Department of State Health Services has allocated general revenue dollars to try and maintain funding lost from the tobacco funds (5046). These funds are included in the current Senate budget proposal at $1.4 million per year. However, even with the DSHS GR funds being made available, funding to RACs and EMS will be cut by approximately $1.4 million per year if no action is taken. The initial Senate budget also recommends more than $165 million per year in appropriations from Account 5111. The legislature must balance the various needs funded funded by this account and ensure that hospitals, EMS and RACs remain the focus of this funding.
There will be numerous opportunities for stakeholders to testify at future hearings, once subcommittees are named. For now, TETAF encourages all stakeholders to reach out to their State Senator, especially those on the Finance Committee, to encourage them to fully fund the needs of the trauma and emergency healthcare system. Calls and emails from constituents are crucial to impacting the budget process.