State Capital Highlights
But there is a plan in place to pump about $1.7 billion into the budget for Texas public schools over the next biennium.
According to the Texas Education Agency, the State Board of Education on July 20 approved a percentage distribution of the Permanent School Fund of 3.3 percent for fiscal years 2014 and 2015. This, officials expect, should produce a payout of about $830 million each year. The funding is used to pay for instructional materials and general education expenses for the state’s public school students. The $25 billion Permanent School Fund is the secondlargest educational endowment in the country, behind only Harvard’s endowment. Education Agency announced The Foundation School Program’s new automated bond application program won a Best of Texas award from the national Center for Digital Government for “best information technology collaboration among organizations.”
The program automates components of the funding system financing almost $1 billion annually for school district construction projects, the Texas Education Agency reported, adding that “the improved system now provides prompt, accurate payments, improved reporting to school districts, on-demand ledger access and a detailed audit trail.”
Texas Railroad Commission, the three-member state agency that regulates the oil, gas, mining and pipeline industries in Texas, on July 17 announced the adoption of a new policy that restricts lobbying.
Under the policy, for two years after a commissioner or executive director leaves the agency, he or she may not appear before the commission or otherwise communicate with current commissioners, agency officers or employees with the intent to influence agency action on behalf of any person and in connection with any matter.
“This policy should leave no doubt among our staff, the industries we regulate, and the general public that the Railroad Commission is complying with both the letter and the spirit of the Texas Revolving Door Statute,” agency Chairman Barry Smitherman said. “Adopting this policy is an important step to maintaining the public trust.”
Commissioner Buddy Garcia joined Smitherman in voting for the policy. The Railroad Commission news release did not mention the agency’s third commissioner, David Porter.
Early voting was last week
Early voting in the 2012 Primary Runoff Elections was conducted July 23 through July 27.
Secretary of State Esperanza “Hope” Andrade, the state’s chief elections officer, notified Texans that Tuesday, July 31, is the day for regular voting in the runoffs.
Care clinics held in Valley
Operation Lone Star, the annual effort to provide free medical care to people in South Texas was conducted July 23 through July 27.
Locations included a school in each of the following cities: Brownsville, Mission, Rio Bravo, Rio Grande City, San Juan and Zapata.
According to the Department of State Health Services, people in need were able to obtain services including health screenings and treatments, immunizations for children, student physicals, hearing and vision exams, and dental care at some sites.
“This gives people the chance to see a doctor for basic health care, learn what steps will help them stay well, and get linked to ongoing health services,” said Dr. David Lakey, DSHS commissioner. “It’s also an opportunity for local, state and federal emergency responders to exercise operating public health clinics in a real-world setting.”
Dead trees pose safety threat
Not counting the untold number of trees killed by wildfire last year, the Texas Forest Service in early July said foresters and analysts have estimated that as many as 500 million trees in rural forested areas and another 5.6 million trees in populated urban areas of Texas were killed as a result of the 2011 drought.
Texas Forest Service, noting the volume of dead trees poses a hazard, encouraged homeowners and landowners to remove fire- and droughtkilled trees that are within falling distance of neighboring homes, roads and pathways.
Texans in Games are listed
Texas lays claim to at least 33 athletes competing in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, the governor’s office and an assortment of Texas newspapers reported last week.
Posted by the governor’s office is a list showing each athlete’s name, event(s) and hometown.
Find the list at www.governor. state.tx.us <http://www.governor.state.tx.us> .
ED STERLING the Director of Member Services at Texas Press Association.