RACs Receive Additional Contract Funding
Although appropriators indicated last session the Regional Advisory Councils (RACs) would receive level funding for FY 18 and 19 contracts with the state, actual FY 18 appropriations were significantly less – some RACs saw a cut of more than 40%. Even more concerning, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) indicated there may not be any funding available for FY 19 contracts. This discrepancy occurs when accounts used to appropriate funds do not produce the amount of money anticipated.
Resolving this unintended funding scenario has been a priority for TETAF. On January 30, 2018, the Senate Finance Committee took testimony on the funding of the state’s trauma system. During the hearing, TETAF stakeholders spoke on the cut and the dire consequences for the state. TETAF staff and the contracted lobby team worked quickly to build on the momentum generated at the hearing and met regularly with lawmakers and the state to explore options to resolve the issue.
Ultimately, due to the work of many of TETAF's supporters, and urging by state lawmakers, DSHS announced in late February they had successfully rearranged budget items within their department and would be able to honor the full contract funding to the RACs, as intended by state lawmakers. Additional funding to make FY 18 contracts whole was dispersed in March. In total, $2.4 million per fiscal year will be distributed among the RACs.
RACs are an important aspect of the state's trauma system. However, despite being created in statute by the legislature, these entities have struggled every year to maintain the increasing responsibilities required by the state on dwindling appropriations. RAC funding will continue to be an important policy priority for TETAF as we prepare for the 2019 legislative session.