The state budget committees are finalizing their respective budget proposals.
The House Appropriations Committee
The House Appropriations
Subcommittee on General Government designated that funding requests for
databases, Loan Star Libraries, and Systems be included in Article XI of the
state’s budget. Article XI is basically a “pending area.” We must ask all
committee members to fund these programs and include them in the approved
budget for the State Library.
The full House Appropriation Committee is expected to consider the State
Library’s budget this Thursday.
CALL TO ACTION: We urge library supporters to contact their representatives if they serve on
the House Appropriations Committee. Ask them to support funding for library
programs. We need them to: approve funding the Texas State Library and
Archives Commission’s exceptional item requests for: 1) Library Resource
Sharing (includes requests for TexShare and the K-12 databases); 2) Loan
Star Libraries, direct aid grants to local public libraries; and 3) the
Regional Library Systems. The State Library budget is part of General
Gov't, (Article I).
Please take just a few minutes
to email your representative about these programs. Explain why these programs
are important to the people in your community. If your representative serves
on the committee, it is critical that you write his/her office. (See Section
II below for a contact list of Appropriations Committee members.)
If your representative does not serve on the committee, please email their
office and ask your representative to talk with Chairman Pitts and others on
the Appropriations Committee to express support for library funding.
We must absolutely make sure that representatives hear from their
Senate Finance Committee
The Senate Finance Committee
accepted workgroup recommendations to increase the Loan Star Libraries program
by $3 million over the biennium, increase the Systems program by $1 million
over the biennium, and increase funding for the Talking Book Program by
$275,000 over the biennium. A total of about $8.7 million over the biennium
for TexShare and K-12 database content (combined amount) was placed in Article
XI (pending but not approved).
The Senate Finance Committee recommendations are very positive. The task for
library advocates now is to try to assure that both the House and Senate
approve increased funding for library programs. The Senate Finance Committee
as a whole is still meeting.
CALL TO ACTION:If you senator serves on the Finance Committee, please email his or her
office, thank them for their support of Loan Star Libraries and Systems
(especially thank Article I workgroup members Sens. Hinojosa, Averitt, and
Harris), and ask that library databases funding put in Article XI (for the
Texas State Library and Archives Commission budget, Article 1) be moved to
Article 1 and included in the final bill. Essentially, we are asking them to
fund TexShare and the K-12 databases also.
Members of the House
Finance Committee members
Federal Stimulus Bill
The Texas Library Association is
working to promote library eligibility for state stimulus funds. Rhoda
Goldberg, director of the Harris County Public Library, is chairing TLA’s
Committee on Economic Stabilization Funding.
Information, including a breakdown of potential federal and state dollars that
may affect libraries, is available online. Please check for updates. Also,
note that the Texas Comptroller has an extended spreadsheet showing the latest
information regarding all components of stimulus funding regarding Texas. See
State Librarian Peggy Rudd is scheduled to appear before the House Select
Committee on Federal Economic Stabilization Funding to discuss the wide array
of programs and services that libraries of all types can undertake through
stimulus funding. The hearing may be heard online on Wednesday, March 18 on
the Texas House of Representatives website at
www.house.state.tx.us/media/welcome.php. The hearing is scheduled to start
at 2 pm. Check
for updated schedules.
Update on Bills
HB 962 (Guillen):
Clarifies existing statute regarding the purchase and acquisition of library
materials at community colleges. Heard in Higher Education, 3/11/09. Left
HB 3756 (Howard)/ SB 2042
(Ellis): Updates, clarifies, and amends statutes related to the Texas
State Library and Archives Commission. The bill, filled at the request of
TLA and TSLAC, updates language related to the library systems, the TexShare
program, Talking Book Program, records management provisions, archival
records and the state’s right of recovery, and the Texas Reads license plate
HB (Alonzo): Requires
that the State Library require that any library serving a community of
50,000 or more provide high speed Internet access to the public. Heard in
Technology, Economic Development and the Workforce, 3/2/09. Left pending.
HB (Dutton): Specifies
that TEA must consider if a school district provides a school librarian on
every campus as part of the accountability rating for a district. Referred
to House Public Education.
HB 1817 (Rose):
Specifies that a county or library district is also eligible to request and
receive state tax and legal information. Referred to Ways and Means.
HB 2887 (Martinez):
Creates a literacy center pilot program through the Texas Higher Education
Coordinating Board in a community college, which must partner with local
entities, including libraries. Referred to House Higher Education.
HB 3215 (Farias):
Establishes a down payment assistance program (up to $4000 in the form of
deferred forgivable second lien loans) for educators (including school
librarians) serving in low-wealth districts. Filed.
HB 3491 (Zerwas): Relates to
the creation and dissolution of all or part of a library district. The bill
allows the dissolution of some districts (or parts thereof) and/or repeal of
dedicated taxes without an election. Filed.
HB 3562 (Coleman):
Requires the State Library to impose a minimum three year retention period
for state electronic records. Filed.
HB 4428 (Hernandez):
Makes adjunct faculty members who are professional librarians at public
institutions of higher education eligible to participate in the group
benefits program available to other adjunct faculty members. Filed.
Legislative Day Review
TLA held it biennial Legislative
Day on February 24 and 25, 2009 in Austin. This two-day event showcased
library legislative issues, and over 200 library supporters from around the
state participated. All delegates were trained on the issues and then attended
visits with legislators and their staffs at the Capitol.
This event featured a special presentation on TLA’s recent public opinion
poll, which offered wonderful statistics on the overwhelming public support
for Texas libraries. Delegates used this information in their meetings with
legislative offices. The gathering was capped off with an informal
get-together at Scholtz Garten, where delegates discussed the day’s activities
and swapped stories. One delegate leader recounted how she started collecting
business cards from senators pledging their support for libraries.
TLA is grateful to our
Legislative Day sponsors: EBSCO Information Services, Encyclopaedia
Britannica, Inc., Lee and Low Books, and ProQuest. With their assistance,
TLA was able to produce valuable and Texas specific information to deliver
to elected officials.
We also offer our sincere
gratitude to all of the volunteers, delegates, and delegate leaders who
traveled to Austin to participate in this crucial event. It is your voice that
makes the difference.