Lawmakers Anticipate COVID-19 Implications for Upcoming Legislative Session
Texas lawmakers anticipate the global pandemic will have implications for theÂ 87th Texas legislative session, potentially impacting issues such as the state budget as well as health care costs.Â
Three state lawmakers discussed the upcoming legislative session duringÂ theÂ Partnership's Future of Texas Business Resource Group virtual event on July 10.
Partnership Vice President of Public Policy and Advocacy Lindsay Munoz moderated the discussion, featuring:
State Senator Nathan Johnson of Senate District 16
Texas House Public Health Committee Chair Senfronia Thompson of House District 141
Texas House County Affairs Committee Chair Garnet Coleman of House District 147
The panel discussedÂ Texas' response to the pandemic.Â Senator Johnson laid outÂ the importance of moving through the riseÂ in confirmed cases and improving contact tracing programs.Â Representative Coleman noted the importance of collecting dataÂ on the virus' impact on racial and ethnic groups across Texas. Representative Thompson highlighted how the virus has emphasized racial and socioeconomic disparities.
Access to Health and Health Care
In response to COVID-19 and the state's ongoing health needs, these legislators discussed proposals to improve Texans' access to care. Senator Johnson pointed to methods of investing in the social determinants of health to lower health care costs. Concerning access to mental and public health care, Representative Thompson and Representative Coleman discussed ensuring the funding for the health care safety net, including the 1115 Waiver and DSRIP funding. The panel of legislators agreed that the state should approach health care issues as an investment. They discussed a variety of methods to protect access to care and address the population of individuals between the 100 percent and 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level who need affordable, quality care.
While the impact of COVID-19 on the state budget is still being calculated, legislators anticipate that the next biennial budget will involve significant reductions. Representative Thompson discussed potential reductions to state health care services. She also noted the importance of protecting public education funding. Regarding the transformational school finance reform legislation passed last session, Representative Thompson said,Â "House Bill 3 was the first time that we did not fund public education based on zip codes."
In comparison to the Great Recession state budget of 2011, Representative Coleman said that "We have been able to crawl out of holes before, but this one is different." It is possible that legislators may consider alternative revenue sources, including re-examining the tax structure for exemptions.Â
The state lawmakers concluded that we will have a much clearer picture of the state budget in the months approaching session, which begins January 12, 2021,Â as federal stimulus funds flow into the state and the effects of the pandemic continue.Â
Future of Texas presentations are open to Partnership members. Members also have ongoing access to a recording of the presentation. Learn more about membership.Â
Learn what other Texas lawmakers anticipate for the upcoming legislative session here.Â See the Partnershipâs COVID-19 Business ResourceÂ page for the latest updates and guidance. Learn more about the Future of Texas Business Resource Group.Â