The Governor’s Committee to Support the Military today released their 2018 report that highlights recommendations for policy changes and legislative action. The Committee’s report includes thirteen recommendations to improve upon education, health care, quality of life, workforce development, encroachment, and infrastructure as they relate to the military community of Texas. The Committee’s recommendations also include input from the Auxiliary Military Spouse Task Force, which includes up to 7 military spouses appointed by the Governor to specifically study and make recommendations related to the quality of life issues.
“I am grateful for the Committee’s hard work over the past several months to develop meaningful recommendations that would improve the lives of our military members and their families,” said Governor Abbott. “We must ensure that active-duty military, veterans, and their families have the resources they need to prosper in the state of Texas. With the guidance and input of our Committee, we are one step closer to that important goal.”
The recommendations include:
1. Licensure/Certification Transfer and Acceptance for Military Spouses and Teacher Certifications: Streamline the process for all professional licenses and certifications through comprehensive licensing and certification reform.
2. Early Enrollment in School for Children of Service Members: Change current law to allow for advance enrollment of a child who is a dependent of a member of the military upon receipt of valid military orders assigning them to a nearby military installation.
3. TEA Military Webpage: TEA should prominently display a link to its Military Family Resources page on its homepage and be incorporated into any type of central online repository for military families.
4. Military Child Education Coalition: Add the current $500,000 biennium funding for the Military Child Education Coalition to TEA’s base appropriation request.
5. Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC): Work with federal partners to encourage data sharing between the Defense Manpower Data Center and the Texas Education Agency.
6. Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children: Amend Chapter 162 of the Texas Education Code to allow for the establishment of a state council for the Military Compact and incorporate input from military families and best practices from other states in determining who should be a member of the council.
7. Connecting Veterans and Active Duty Personnel to Services: TXServes should be expanded in communities across the state to achieve as much coverage as possible utilizing their web-based case management system. Such a system would help make Texas a national model for service delivery to our military members, military families, and veterans.
8. Mitigate the Impact of Lost Property Tax Revenue Due to the Disabled Veterans Residence Homestead Exemption: Eligibility for this program should expand to include counties with a military installation, the cities in that county, and cities in an adjacent county so as to provide reimbursement for cities near the installation, but not contiguous to the installation. The Legislature should also fully fund the program to allow for eligible cities to be reimbursed for 100% of lost revenue.
9. Encourage Advanced Manufacturing and Technology Certification and Degree Programs: Implement several incentives and directives to invest in programs and working groups that address rapidly changing workforce demands.
10. Create a Central Online Repository for Information Related to Military Families: Create a central online repository for information that is specific to the military and their families. This should include but is not limited to information related to any assistance, waivers, and programs the state provides as it relates to occupational and professional licenses, education, and healthcare.
11. Interagency Contracts between TXDOT and the Military: Legislative changes should be enacted which allow for TxDOT to enter into interagency agreements or contracts with military installations for the maintenance, improvement, relocation, or extension of existing roads. These services should be paid for with federal funds.
12. Defense Economic Adjustment Assistance Grant (DEAAG) Program: Fully fund the DEAAG program to help protect military installations in Texas from potential negative impacts of BRAC.
13. Encroachment on Military Training: Legislation or policy changes should be considered which strengthens the state’s protections against encroachment, including commercial development. This includes adding prohibitions against 313 subsidies that may impact rotary-wing aviation training areas and military training routes located outside military installation boundaries.
The Governor’s Committee to Support the Military was established in September 2018. The Committee is comprised of up to 22 individuals including Texas-resident veterans, community leaders, and business leaders. Essential duties of the Committee include:
– Study and make recommendations on how best to maintain and enhance military value at existing military installations in Texas.
– Study and make recommendations on how best to make Texas a more attractive destination for additional military missions.
– Collaborate with local governments and chambers of commerce to explore surrounding civilian infrastructure and identify competing and complementary needs between private development, the rights of private landowners, and military necessities.
– Examine the 2005 criteria used by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission and identify strategies to avoid future base closures.
– Coordinate with the Texas Military Preparedness Commission and Texas Military Value Task Force. Since January 2018, the Texas Military Value Task Force has met with each Texas installation commander and staff along with the local communities to identify new missions or mission growth opportunities. Their work will serve as a building block to the new committee.