Whew! It’s over and we have a budget!

Today Governor Abbott signed Senate Bill 1, the General Appropriations Act. This action culminates months of work by our agency commission, staff, and stakeholders across the state to set a budget that will continue our work providing Texans the information they need to be informed, productive citizens.

The TSLAC 2018-2019 Budget Overview

The final budget for TSLAC as included in the General Appropriations Act stands at $30,227,139 in GR funds and a total budget of $66,010,905. These figures represent a total decrease of state funding of 4.9%, but, an overall agency funding increase of about 1.5%.

Like most other state agencies, we had prepared a budget as instructed at a 4% reduction ($1,271,405) in base GR funding. And while $250,000 of this amount was restored for security and repairs at the Sam Houston Center in Liberty, the legislature, however, reduced the agency’s GR appropriation by an additional $536,573. These reductions can be taken without the loss of staff or deep impact to library and archives programs.

Broadband initiative

The budget includes a supplemental one-time $1 million from the Economic Stabilization Funds (the “Rainy Day Fund”) to support broadband development in Texas public libraries. We are grateful to the Legislature for helping the commission achieve a major milestone toward their strategic goal of ensuring digital inclusion through libraries. The project will help libraries secure E-Rate discounts for high-speed Internet affordable and furthers our goal of demonstrating the important role that libraries can play in providing a digital safety net for their communities. The staff of the Library Development and Networking Division has already begun to plan for this project. Please stay tuned for details in the coming days and weeks.

Unfortunately, no other exceptional items were funded, including the requested $8 million for e-book materials for TexShare and TexQuest. It seems that it was not a year to gain such an appropriation, though many lawmakers told us privately and in committee hearings about their awareness and appreciation of the TexShare and TexQuest programs. We will continue to push for additional resources in future legislative sessions.

I want to thank the Texas Library Association and other supporters across the state who took time to express to the Legislature the importance of the services provided by our agency. We are humbled and grateful for your advocacy and encouragement.