With your help, last summer we developed budget requests for the 83rd legislative session for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, Texas A&M AgriLife Research, Texas A&M Forest Service and Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory. These requests addressed a broad range of state needs: water conservation, emergency response, and public and animal health.
Each request was carefully considered during the session and appropriations were made that will have a positive impact on our programs. Please find a brief overview of each, as well as the full PDF downloads below.
For these appropriations, we have our outstanding legislators to thank; but I’d also like to call attention to the folks who supported us throughout session and helped brief the legislature about our unique and pertinent programs.
First and foremost, I’d like to thank Texas A&M System Chancellor John Sharp. His support and outreach is vital in moving us forward towards our goal to make the A&M System the best system of higher education in the country.
A big thank you to Joe Cox, assistant vice chancellor for external relations, and Cristina Cornejo, program coordinator, in our external relations office. They are the boots on the ground for strategic communication and interaction with our elected officials and they helped coordinate numerous events throughout session.
Additionally, thanks to each of you who helped support our programs and projects across Texas. Your work each day makes Texas stronger! We saw many of you and our statewide volunteers at the Capitol this session…a few of the educational events are outlined below….
4-H at the Capitol
February 6, 2013
More than 600 4-H youths and their families visited the capitol to meet with their legislators and provide them with information about 4-H in their district. Attendees sat in on the House and Senate meetings, learned about the Texas legislature, and toured the capitol building.
Extension in the City
February 14, 2013
AgriLife Extension staff members attended a breakfast briefing at the capitol to educate elected officials about the Extension urban programs. This session featured health and nutrition programming.
February 16, 2013
Senator Kirk Watson and Representative Tim Kleinschmidt helped coordinate Aggie Replant in Bastrop. The event was held to kickoff the replanting of 30,000 new drought-hardy loblolly pines by student volunteers from Texas A&M University.
AgriLife Advanced Leadership Program
April 15-18, 2013
Program participants heard from various commodity groups about the important role that each of them plays in the legislature and the role that Texas A&M AgriLife can play in the legislative process.
Below is a brief summary of each request and the appropriation we received for 2014–2015.
Advancements in Water Resource Management
This Exceptional Item is held jointly by Texas A&M AgriLife Research, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension and Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station. The item addresses urban and rural surface water, groundwater, and reusable water issues through research, technology development, and best practices. Through this exceptional item, AgriLife Research is improving municipal, manufacturing, irrigation, and recreational and agricultural water utilization and conservation.
Other appropriations include:
Reversing the Decline of Quail in Texas
Focused on education and research for landscape improvements, this request will increase quail populations throughout Texas. By reversing the decline of quail, AgriLife Extension is restoring the ecosystem balance and maintaining the economic and recreational benefits of quail hunting in the state.
Expanding Workforce Horizons for Texas Youth
At a time when the future of Texas depends on having a skilled and educated workforce, too many Texas youth lack direction as they plan for life after high school. Through this exceptional item, AgriLife Extension is funding a career and college discovery program for underserved students and their families to expand their vision and knowledge about job choices and college planning.
Texas Wildfire Protection Plan: Volunteer Fire Department (VFD) Grants
Eighty percent of all wildfires burn within two miles of a community. Through this exceptional item, the Forest Service is ensuring firefighters across the state are prepared by restoring spending authority for the Rural Volunteer Fire Department Assistance Program and the Rural Volunteer Fire Department Insurance Program. Restoring program funding provides the equipment, gear and training firefighters need to keep Texans safe, as well as workers compensation coverage.
Texas Wildfire Protection Plan: Texas A&M Forest Service Operations
The 2011 Fire Season was the worst in Texas history, during which more than 31,000 wildfires burned more than 4 million acres, destroyed nearly 3,000 homes and killed 10 people. Through this exceptional item, the Forest Service is enhancing the Texas Wildfire Protection Plan to provide additional firefighters and firefighting equipment across the state.
Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (TVMDL) College Station Laboratory
The College Station laboratory, built in 1967 and expanded three times, has served the agency well. However, the antiquated infrastructure jeopardizes biosafety and biosecurity. As one of the highest-volume veterinary laboratories in the nation, the TVMDL facility is critical to detection of a disease outbreak that could result in economic losses and trade restrictions on Texas agricultural products. Through this exceptional item, TVMDL is building a facility capable of meeting safety and workflow requirements.
In addition, legislators made the following funding appropriations.
– $161 million for Wildfire Costs
– $162,000 for AgriLife Research technical correction for 12/13
– $800,000 for Zebra Chip (maintained)
TRS Retirement Benefits
– Vested members (5 years of service) prior to September 1, 2014: Maintains current law
– Non-vested members as of September 1, 2014: Maintains the Rule of 80, Adjusts minimum age for unreduced retirement from 60 to 62, and provides for a 5% per year annuity reduction for those choosing to retire prior to age 62
Salary Increase for General State Employees
– 1% in FY 14 ($50/month minimum)
– 2% in FY 15
Wine at TDA — restored at $500,000
Endangered Species at Comptroller — $5 million