Senate Finance Committee Meets Tuesday 2/21/23
On Tuesday 2/21/23 the Texas Senate Finance Committee will be meeting to hear public testimony on budget items including critical programs that impact people with Autism and other disabilities. You can urge them to support needed programs! Below you will see who to call, followed by what to say. We realize this is long, but the budget greatly impacts important programs, services and supports for people with Autism across the lifespan.
Find Your State Senator:
Go to the website. “Who Represents Me” https://wrm.capitol.texas.gov/home
You will need to use your complete address to find your State Senator.
Take note of the name of your Texas State House and Senate Member and the District Number. Keep those handy for this Action Alert and others in the future! (For this alert you are just contacting your Senator or Senators on the Finance Committee!).
The link to the individual legislators page from the “Who Represents Me” may not always be updated, please use our updated PDFs below!
Where do I find my Senator’s contact information?
To ensure you have the best contact information – we’ve provided a PDF for the Senate Finance Committee:
- Contact information for Senate Finance Committee Members can be found here.
We have also created a PDF that can give you detailed information for every Senator. Simply search for the name or the district number and all of the contact information will be there.
- Contact information for every Senator can be found here.
Who to call or email:
For this Action Alert, we are making sure that the Senate Finance Committee knows what our budget priorities are. Therefore, you should call or email (in order of importance):
- Your Senator if they are on the Finance Committee (17 out of 31 senators are).
- The Committee Clerk Stephanie Hoover (firstname.lastname@example.org or 512-463-0370)
- Chair Huffman (Joan.Huffman@senate.texas.gov or 512-463-0117) and Vice Chair Hinojosa (Juan.Hinojosa@senate.texas.gov or 512-463-0120).
- Your Senator if they are not on the Finance Committee.
- Any other Senate Finance members.
If you are limited on time #1 and #2 are the most critical! If you have lots of time – feel free to call all members of the Senate Finance Committee!
What we are focusing on for this action alert:
The Senate Finance Committee is meeting about the biennial budget (Senate Bill 1). The public meeting scheduled for Tuesday, February 21, 2023 is for public testimony on the Health and Human Services section of the budget (Article II). All of the Senate Finance committee members will also listen to testimony and work on other articles such as Education (Article III).
Our goal is to advocate for a few important funding issues including the ABA Medicaid Services Program, across-the-board increases in HHSC programs to fund case growth, increased funding for the Children’s Autism Program, and (if you have time when speaking to a legislative staff person) some other issues including ECI (Early Childhood Intervention), TCHATT (Mental Health Telemedicine), and Community Attendant Wage increases. Bonus – we’ve added a few other items in the “Talking Points” if a staffer engages you or if they give you more time!
We have provided you with two documents:
- Talking Points and Background can be found here. (These are for you, our advocates!)
- A Budget Flyer (or leave-behind) – can be emailed to legislative offices. You can find the budget flyer here.
Script- What should you say?
In District (You are calling your own Senator) – If you are calling your Senator, you are a constituent, and the office needs to know that you are. Let them know where you live (the nearest city is fine) and that these are important matters to you.
Out of District (You do not live in the Senator’s District) – If you are calling an office that does not represent you directly, no need to tell them that. Simply state that your connection to Autism- you are an individual, parent, a provider, a person with a disability, Autistic, or whatever else fits your reason for being politically active.
Support– What are we supporting and why?
Use the talking points as necessary but feel free to tell your story on any of the many issues that need funding, and why that issue is important enough for you to make a call or to send an email. They can read the budget flyer -so if you have a personal story – share that with them!
Try to be brief but remember that their job is to listen and document public input.
When you are finished – ask them if you can email the Budget Flyer and/or attach that directly to your email. The Talking Points and other material are for you. The Budget Flyer is a leave-behind (or email it to offices) so that that office has a copy of the issues, your stance, and contact information to follow up if necessary.
When calling, try to get a staffer’s direct email address if you can, but the generic email address works fine.
If you need to cut and paste the Talking Points into an email, or read something when you call, below are some simplified statements that align with our more in-depth flyers posted above.
We ask that the Senators support the following:
- Improved funding & transparency for the Autism Medicaid Services Program to meet the extensive needs of children and young adults with Autism.
- Allocate $70 million in general revenue per year.
- Ensure that HHSC collects and shares data on how much is being spent on the program, how many children and young adults are being served per year, and the costs per client, by adding a reporting mechanism.
- Create an advisory committee made up of a broad group of interested parties to address problems and concerns with the program.
- All HHS programs should receive a 12.3% increase in funding to match the 12.3% growth rate for Texas in order to support the expected increase in caseloads.
- Increase funding for Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) which is underfunded due to an increase in caseloads; underfunding has also caused service providers to be inadequately compensated and has made it challenging for some ECI providers to remain operational in certain regions of Texas.
- Expand funding for Texas Child Health Access Through Telemedicine (TCHATT), an important program that provides telemedicine or telehealth programs to school districts to help
identify and assess the behavioral health needs of students and provide access to mental
- Increase wages for Community Care Attendants to $15/hour. Attendants are a crucial source of support for people with disabilities and deserve to be adequately compensated.
When you end your email or phone call, please thank staff for their time. Legislative staffers work long hours in difficult jobs and deserve a thank you now and again!
If you learn anything about any Autism connections in the office that you have called or the office asks for any follow-up information, or if there is a question you cannot answer – feel free to email us at email@example.com and we will contact the office. Thank you for supporting the Texas Autism Community! The Connection is You.