286: Session Begins

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Posted: January 14, 2013

Table of Contents

  1. Session Overview
  2. Senate Finance Hearing for State Library Set
  3. Library Funding
  4. Bills
  5. Library Virtual Action Day, February 12, 2013
  6. State Library Releases ROI Study

I. Session Overview

The 83rd Legislature convened on Tuesday, January 8th. Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, and Speaker Joe Straus met recently to discuss priorities for the 83rd Legislative Session.  The state leaders expressed their commitment to budget transparency and the conservative fiscal policies that have made Texas a national leader in job creation and prosperity, according to a joint press release. They also reiterated their focus to address the growing demands on our state’s infrastructure, strengthen education for our skilled workforce, and provide tax relief for Texans. 

The Lt. Governor added, “We need comprehensive public education reform, including more choice for parents, and the development of more drinking water, highway capacity, and power generation as our Texas population doubles over the next 40-50 years.”  Some of these priorities will require state funding which may be available, according to the latest revenue projections issued by Comptroller Combs. In her biennial revenue estimate for 2014-15, lawmakers will have an $8.8 billion surplus and the Rainy Day Fund is expected to balloon to $11.8 billion. The large surplus revealed the Comptroller's original revenue estimate for the 2012-2013 biennium was off the mark, and the state should have sufficient resources to start undoing the historic 2011 budget cuts. Those cuts dramatically hurt public education and other key services.  The issue remains which cuts, if any, will be restored.

One issue that has been resolved was the Speaker’s race. Despite early reports that Rep. David Simpson (R- Longview) would challenge Joe Straus, Simpson withdrew his bid, and the House elected Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) by acclamation.  "The House will work to strengthen public and higher education, improve workforce quality by preparing more Texans for cutting-edge jobs, secure reliable supplies of water, and increase budget transparency," said Straus.

The Speaker is now in the process of completing committee assignments, the precursor needed for the House to undertake its business.

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II. Senate Finance Hearing for State Library Set

The Senate Finance Committee is expected to begin budget hearings in late January. The Texas State Library and Archives Commission is currently scheduled to appear before the Committee on February 5 to present its proposed Legislative Appropriations Request (i.e., budget). The hearing will start at 8 am in E1.036.

Anyone wishing to travel to Austin to testify in support of funding for libraries should contact Gloria Meraz (gloriam@txla.org) immediately.  

Library supporters are urged to contact their own senators, especially if they serve on the Finance Committee.  Please ask your senator to promote funding for libraries by approving the State Library’s Exceptional Items Requests. (See Library Issues below for more details.) To find out who represents you, go to: www.txla.org/take-action!

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III. Library Funding

Ask your state senator and representative to actively support funding for libraries by voting for library initiatives in the State Library budget and by talking with colleagues who serve on the House Appropriations or Senate Finance Committees.

What We Want: Support of the State Library legislative appropriations request, especially the exceptional items (i.e., request for additional funds) for library programs.

  1. 1.      Shared Digital Content – $9.25 million over the biennium for digital (electronic) materials for all types of libraries. Resources include online homework help, college preparation, research, job searching, career and test preparation, and other assistance in helping people reach their economic goals.
  2. 2.      Innovation Partnership Grants – $3.4 million/ biennium for training and programming built on local partnerships and innovative practices to advance educational attainment, workforce development, and written and digital literacy.

Why we need this funding: Texas libraries are struggling since the loss of statewide funding last session. The partial restoration of state funds will help deploy the workforce and educational resources Texans have come to rely upon.

Without a reinstatement of state funds, the State Library may be unable to make a successful case to the federal government for a continuation of crucially needed federal dollars for Texas libraries.  Because of the state cuts last session, Texas may lose up to another $9 million in federal funds in 2015! We need these funds to support TexShare, library programming, and interlibrary loan.

Contact your legislators today and get your supporters to do so also!

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IV. Bills

HB 374 (Guillen) – Rep. Ryan Guillen (D-Laredo) has introduced HB 374 which gives certain development corporations the option of undertaking projects to support community libraries. This proposed legislation was filed last session and passed the House. The session concluded, however, before the bill could clear the Senate. The library community is grateful to Rep. Guillen for his continued support of this issue and libraries.

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This year, TLA is asking supporters to conduct a virtual campaign in support of libraries on February 12, 2013. Rather than hosting a traditional Legislative Day, this year we want to emphasize grassroots action.

While some library supporters may opt to come to Austin for in-person visits, the focus on Legislative Virtual Action Day will be to have statewide virtual advocacy occurring within your own community.

It is critical this session to focus on grassroots activities and have advocates make strategic visits at home districts prior to and throughout the session. So, while we will not have Legislative Day with statewide library delegations in Austin on one day in February, TLA will offer many opportunities for advocacy and visiting with legislators during strategic times throughout the session.

Participating in Virtual Action Day: Take the time to call your state senator and representative. Tell them about the incredible services your library provides.

Make a commitment to get people writing and communicating about critical statewide issues. Organize a letter-writing campaign, tweet-up, and other virtual campaigns and activities to get people talking about libraries.

Recruit friends groups, students, faculty, and supporters to join the effort. It is particularly important to have administrators, city or county officials, and parents contact elected officials on behalf of libraries and library users.

This trick is to get as many people as possible in your local community to call, email, write, or post to legislative offices. The purpose of all of these activities is to create communication traffic at legislative offices. Your state senator and representative needs to hear from you and hundreds of other local constituents about your desire for them to proactively support library funding initiatives at the State Library!

Still want to come to Austin? If you would like to come to Austin on February 12 and would like to bring fellow supporters, please contact Gloria Meraz for more information.

Resources at www.txla.org/advocacy-tools are available!

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VI. State Library Releases ROI Study

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) has released a study showing that in 2011 the economic benefit from Texas public libraries totaled an astounding $2.407 billion, while collectively the libraries cost less than $0.545 billion. The return on investment was thus $4.42 for each dollar invested.

The study was prepared for TSLAC by the Bureau of Business Research at the University of Texas at Austin and is available at www.tsl.state.tx.us/roi for immediate review and dissemination. Highlights include financial statistics, a survey of Texas public library directors, and case studies.

The study draws largely on two quantitative analyses: one of Texas public libraries as business and organizational entities and the other of services rendered. Research found that libraries produced $1.043 billion in local economic activity. The service analysis examined the circulation of books and other media; access to public computers and the Internet; educational programs; and other services that produced an estimated total of $1.364 billion. Combining the two analyses yielded an economic benefit of $2.407 billion.

TEXLINE is an irregular e-newsletter that is sent whenever state library-related policy or legislative action is occurring. 

To subscribe to Texline, send an email to gloriam@txla.org and specify that you would like to be added to the Texline list.


Created on Jan 14, 2013 | Last updated January 14, 2013