Review revenue sources currently funding the state’s trauma system and the impact of declining revenues and balances in General Revenue – Dedicated accounts. Evaluate the impact of statutory changes affecting trauma system funding, including efforts to eliminate the Driver Responsibility Program. Examine ways to ensure sustainability of the trauma system in Texas.
This is the first time in recent memory an interim charge relating to the DRP has been studied in a committee that appropriates state dollars. This is important because counties agree that the Driver Responsibility Program should not go away unless the funding is maintained for those trauma centers. Since 2011, the state has seen no less than 18 hospitals close, creating a greater strain on the safety net system in Texas.
“The DRP program strains the judicial system with more DWI cases going to trial and increases court administration costs due to increases in misdemeanor charges for driver’s license suspensions,” said Rick Thompson, legislative liaison for the Texas Association of Counties in his testimony to the committee. “It backs up your jails, it backs up your prosecutors, many of them are indigent, so they’re going to be entitled to a court-appointed lawyer — the county’s going to pay for all of that.”
After a discussion of the coalition working on HB 2068, which would have reformed the Driver Responsibility Program during the 85th session, the Texas Hospital Association and TAC representatives were praised by the committee chair, Sen. Jane Nelson, for their efforts in collaborating with other stakeholders and coming to the legislature with solutions.
The Finance Committee is expected to issue a report with recommendations on all of its interim charges prior to the beginning of the next legislative session in January 2019.
This story originally published by Texas Association of Counties (TAC).