The Texas House and Senate introduced budget bills, and there is an $8 billion difference between the two. The proposed Senate budget is $213.4 billion and the House budget is $221.3 billion, about an $8 billion difference.
The Senate budget includes $103.6 billion in general revenue which is less than the $104.9 billion the Texas Comptroller estimates is available. In contrast, the House version proposes $108.9 billion in general revenue, about $4 billion more than the Comptroller's estimate. As proposed, the House budget has $2.2 billion more for education and $2 billion more for health and human services in state spending than the Senate's.
How did libraries fare? The Texas State Library and Archives Commission budget in both versions is at the level requested by the agency with some minor differences. However, as expected, the exceptional item requests for expanding e-resources, broadband access, computer security, staff pay equity, and state and local records programs support were not included.
Senate Finance Hearing on State Library Budget – Time to Take Action!
On Monday, February 6, the Senate Finance Committee will consider SB 7 and agency budgets under Article I – General Government, which includes the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC). TLA will have school, public and academic librarians on hand who will testify the need for adequate funding, explain why increasing funding for e-resources and broadband are critical, and to inform the Senate Finance Committee about TSLAC's importance to the library community.
Please contact your Senators, especially if they are a member of the Finance Committee, and ask them to support education, workforce development, and Texas' knowledge-based economy by supporting the full budget and exceptional items requested by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. Phone calls are the most effective away to communicate with elected officials (Why You Should Call, Not Email, Your Legislators). If you call the office, ask to speak with the staff person working on Finance and share your information with them. Introduce yourself as a constituent, and if you are unable to call, please feel free to email or send a letter. The more people from Senators' districts that communicate with their offices prior to February 6 the better!
Fact sheets on the key budget issues, additional information and tips for contacting your legislators, and a link to find out who represents you in the Texas Senate are available on www.txla.org/take-action.
Texas Public Libraries: Economic Engines
Texas Public Libraries: Economic Benefits and Return on Investment, a research report just issued by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission and conducted by the Bureau of Business Research IC2 Institute (The University of Texas at Austin), public libraries have significant economic impact on their communities and the state of Texas.
For every one dollar invested in Texas public libraries, communities see a return on investment (ROI) of $4.64 in access to resources, programming, services and technology, a 5% increase since the last study in 2012.
Texas public libraries produce $967 million in economic activity and 11,000 jobs.
Services including educational programs, books, digital media, research databases, and wireless Internet access offered by Texas public libraries are valued at over $1.6 billion.
So the next time someone asks what exactly libraries contribute to their communities, let them know that in addition to being centers for learning, discovery and support for educational activities, libraries are valuable economic engines of growth and opportunity.