Deep Concerns Regarding the Across-the-Board Cut in the Senate Budget

Testimony to the Senate Finance Committee

We urge the Committee to withdraw the across-the-board cut contained in Article IX of the Senate budget and consider each program’s funding needs on a case-by-case basis. The proposed $1 billion cut would undermine the state’s efforts to improve child protection. It would lead to Medicaid cuts far in excess of the controversial therapy rate cuts for children with disabilities. It would also make it harder to reach full funding for the new pre-k grant program and other services that are critical to the success of children.

Childhood Nutrition & Access to Healthy Foods: A Foundation for Lifelong Success

Testimony to the Senate Committee on Finance

Thank you for the opportunity to provide input regarding the Senate Finance Committee’s filed budget bill for 2018-2019, Senate Bill 1, and in particular Article VI (Natural Resources). I write to urge you to support increased funding for “Texans Feeding Texans” (Surplus Agricultural Product Grant) to $10M for Fiscal Year 2018-19 (SB 1, Article VI-7, Rider 10). This funding supports Texas food banks in their commitment to help needy Texans reach their full potential for a healthy, productive life.

SB 11 Thoughtfully Expands Community-Based Foster Care Across Texas

Testimony to the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services

SB 11 addresses significant problems facing Texas’ foster care system including capacity, health screening, and foster care facility investigations. Many of the proposed changes will help keep children in foster care safe and healthy. Further, SB 11 has several provisions that focus on preventing child abuse and neglect in the first place, thereby reducing the need for the foster care system. Although SB11 is a strong bill, many of the solutions it presents raise questions that must be addressed to ensure the success of community-based foster care. We support SB 11 and look forward to working with you to answer questions that will strengthen the bill moving forward.

Addressing Non-Academic Barriers to Student Learning

Testimony to Senate Finance Committee

Every school day, teachers, counselors, nurses, principals, and coaches interact with students experiencing social, emotional, and behavioral challenges that interfere with learning. Just as Texas needs to help schools better address academic barriers to learning, it must also help schools implement strategies and classroom conditions that address non-academic barriers to learning.

Maintaining the Current Level of Annual Funding for Pre-k Grants

Testimony to Senate Finance Committee

The state’s new pre-k grant program, established by HB 4, is off to a strong start in its first year. However, the introduced budget bill falls short of maintaining the current $118 million per year, putting the program at risk just as it is getting started and undermining efforts to ensure that students enter kindergarten with the skills they need to succeed.