This Week in Texas: November 28, 2012

Posted November 28, 2012 in The Mignon Memo

On Tuesday, Governor Perry appointed John T. Steen Jr. of San Antonio as Texas’ 108th Secretary of State.  Steen is an attorney and past board member of the Texas Public Safety Commission. He also served on the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.  Steen replaces former Secretary of State Hope Andrade who resigned earlier this month.

Governor Perry has appointed Jeffrey Boyd to the Texas Supreme Court effective Dec. 3, 2012, for a term to expire at the next general election.  Boyd, who currently serves as chief of staff for the Governor’s Office, replaces Justice Dale Wainwright who resigned September 30, 2012 to enter private practice.  To replace Boyd, Governor Perry named Ann S. Bishop as his new chief of staff.  Bishop has served as the Executive Director of the Employees Retirement System of Texas since 2004.

The Texas Legislative Budget Board (LBB) set a $77.9 billion cap on state spending for the 2014-15 budget year, a 10 percent increase above the current discretionary spending limit.  During a meeting of the LBB held on November 15th, several members expressed their desire to limit spending increases to population growth plus inflation. Ursula Parks, the LBB’s director, told lawmakers that experts estimate that rate will be 9.85 percent in 2014-15.  The final spending cap will be set by Comptroller Susan Combs in January when she issues an official revenue estimate for 2014-15.

Governor Perry announced the creation of the “Skilled Workforce Initiative” in Texas. The initiative is a  collaboration between the Governor’s Office, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the Texas Workforce Commission that will use competency-based learning to help Texans quickly receive certifications in high demand industries.  In the new program, students will obtain a certificate of completion in a specific field that would fit between an associate’s degree of applied science and a high school diploma. Those credits would then be transferable if the students wanted to pursue more education later. The first classes will begin in September 2013 at Texas State Technical College campuses in Harlingen and East Williamson County.