Archives > 2017 Legislative Updates > Jan. 20, 2017 (Volume 6, Number 2)

Jan. 20, 2017 (Volume 6, Number 2)

Wow! It feels like last week was just the beginning of the 85th legislative session….Wait a minute – it was the beginning. The second week came and went, as did the legislators; both chambers convened on Tuesday; adjourned on Wednesday, January 18; and called it a week. Why? Many members were on their way to attend the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States. (Read more about that below under “The Feds.”) 

The second week may have been short, but we saw plenty of activity at the Capitol. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced the 2017 Senate committee chairs and members. Speaker of the House Joe Straus has not announced committee chairs, but we hear he will do that sometime over the next few days. Being a committee chair is a powerful position. Committee chairs schedule committee meetings and testimony, and they also decide which legislative bills will be heard and voted on in their respective committees. Would you like to learn more about the legislative process? The Texas Legislative Council has written A Guide to Legislative Information (think Schoolhouse Rock without the fun video). Section one discusses the legislative process in Texas. 

Members of the Senate Higher Education Committee are chairman Kel Seliger, vice chair Royce West, and Sens. Paul Bettencourt, Dawn Buckingham, José Menéndez, Larry Taylor and Kirk Watson

Where’s the money?

Last week, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar released the Biennial Revenue Estimate (BRE) , which projected that the state has approximately $104.87 billion in available revenue. This excludes federal money that passes through the state and dedicated revenue streams that state lawmakers can’t control. On Tuesday, both chambers released their 2018-2019 budgets – which represents the starting point for both chambers. The House budget can be found here and the Senate budget, SB1, can be found here. On the Senate side, Lt. Gov. Patrick reappointed Sen. Jane Nelson as chair of the Senate Finance Committee; at 11 a.m. on Monday, January 23, the committee will begin deliberations on SB 1, which proposes a $213.4 billion base budget. 

On the House side, as noted, the Speaker has not announced committee chairs. The initial House plan appropriates $221.3 billion. With respect to discretionary spending, there is a $5.3 billion difference between the two proposals (Senate $103.6 billion, House $108.9 billion)

Taking a closer look at the budgets is important. For example…one immediate concern for small businesses and the Dallas County Community College District is that the Senate budget does not include funding for DCCCD’s Small Business Development Center. We will work with SBDC clients and other stakeholders to help show legislators how valuable SBDCs are to the financial health of Texas.  


North Texas SBDC 2016 Impact Report

Capitol Meetings 

On Wednesday, Chancellor Joe May and Executive Vice Chancellor Justin Lonon met with various legislators to discuss bills that are important to DCCCD students, faculty and staff. Chancellor May and Dr. Lonon met with Sens. Seliger and Royce West; Rep. John Zerwas, chairman of the House Higher Education Committee, and Reps. Helen Giddings, Rafael Anchia (chair of the Mexican-American Legislative Caucus), Victoria Neave, Carol Alvarado; and the Texas Workforce Commission’s executive director, Larry Temple.


DCCCD Chancellor Joe May meets with Sen. Royce West, Senate Vice Chair, Higher Education Committee.


DCCCD Chancellor Joe May (left) meets with Rep. John Zerwas (center), House Chairman of Higher Education, along with Austin Community College’s president, Dr. Richard Rhodes (right).


DCCCD Chancellor Joe May meets with Rep. Rafael Anchia, Mexican-American Legislative Caucus (MALC) Chair.


DCCCD Chancellor Joe May meets with Rep. Victoria Neave.

Important Issues

Here is a brief list of important bills we shared in our first newsletter; we will track these and other bills during the legislative session. 

  • Funding for community colleges
    • We are seeking $1.834 billion in general revenue for core operations, student success and instruction for community colleges.
    • Our community colleges have grown 62 percent since 2000.
  • Early childhood education: Sen. West, SB 534; Rep. Giddings, HB 971
    • The Dallas County job market is experiencing a shortage of more than 4,000 early childhood educators.
    • The bill will offer the choice of a quality, affordable bachelor’s degree in early childhood education.
    • It supports the governor’s mission of a quality pre-kindergarten.
    • This goal can be achieved without adding a fiscal cost for the state.
  • Workforce development: “Recruit Texas” Rep. Alvarado, HB 108
    • We want to ensure that Texas remains competitive and is the #1 place for economic development and workforce training.
    • “Recruit Texas” redirects current funds within the Texas Workforce Commission.
    • The program can include assessment, employee recruitment, safety training and leadership development.

As always, please feel free to contact our office with any questions.

The Feds

Today at noon (ET), we witnessed the peaceful transfer of power in our country. Donald J. Trump was sworn in as the 45thPresident of the United States. As President Trump begins his term, his prospective cabinet members are involved in their U.S. Senate confirmation hearings. This week, Secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos participated in her hearing with the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. You can also read her full testimony.

DCCCD will work with the new administration and Secretary of Education to ensure we are helping our students, faculty and staff. We will monitor important issues like the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act and the restoration of summer Pell Grants.

Included in the cabinet nominations is former Texas Gov. Rick Perry. President Trump has selected him to lead the Department of Energy. Gov. Perry’s hearing with the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources was held on Thursday. In his opening statement, he said, “My past statements made over five years ago about abolishing the Department of Energy do not reflect my current thinking. In fact, after being briefed on so many of the vital functions of the Department of Energy, I regret recommending its elimination.”


Do you know who represents you? Whether we are advocating in Washington, D.C., or Austin, we ask you to be ready to contact your elected officials. Many people occupy offices and suits in D.C. and Austin, but the biggest impact is made by constituents. The state has a website that can help you learn more about elected officials who represents you.   

Newsletter published by the Office of Public and Governmental Affairs, Dallas County Community College District. Please contact Justin Lonon for more information about DCCCD’s legislative initiatives.