Minutes — February 2017 Committee of the Whole Meeting

2017 Council and Committee Meetings


Council Members Present

  • Mary Durheim, Council Chair
  • Hunter Adkins
  • Kimberly Blackmon
  • Kristine Clark
  • Gladys Cortez
  • Kristen Cox
  • Mateo Delgado
  • Stephen Gersuk
  • Ivy Goldstein, DSHS/Maternal and Child Health
  • Ruth Mason
  • Scott McAvoy
  • Michael Peace
  • Dana Perry
  • Ron Roberts, TEA/IDEA
  • Amy Sharp, UT CDS
  • Meagan Sumbera, A&M CDD
  • David Taylor
  • Lora Taylor
  • Richard Tisch
  • John Thomas

Council Members Absent

  • Lisa Akers-Owen, HHSC/Older Americans Act
  • Jennifer Kaut, TWC/Vocational Rehabilitation
  • Dana Perry
  • Brandon Pharris
  • Jami Snyder, HHSC/Medicaid

Guests Present

  • Jan Brown, JAS
  • Isabel Evans
  • Ted Johnson, JAS
  • Mike Mason
  • William Mason
  • Alexandra Noble
  • Jason Sabo

Staff Members Present

  • Beth Stalvey, Executive Director
  • Joanna Cordry
  • Danny Fikac
  • Ashley Ford
  • Linda Logan
  • Jessica Ramos
  • Joshua Ryf
  • Koren Vogel

Call To Order

The Committee of the Whole of the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities convened on Thursday, February 9, 2017, in the Hill Country B Ballroom of the Holiday Inn Austin Midtown, 6000 Middle Fiskville Road, Austin, TX 78752. Council Chair Mary Durheim called the meeting to order at 9:30 AM.

  1. Introductions
    Council members, staff and guests introduced themselves.

  2. Public Comments
    No public comments were offered. Members provided personal updates. It was noted that the Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities is seeking help with a video on accessible parking. Contract staff from Johnson Applied Solutions reported that the Texas Partners in Policymaking website is live and applications for the program are available and will be accepted until May 1, 2017.

  3. Review of Public Policy Priorities
    Public Policy Director Jessica Ramos provided background information for members in preparation for legislative visits scheduled that afternoon. She discussed the budget proposals including the differences in appropriations bills filed by the Senate and the House of Representatives. She noted that the biennial revenue estimate is $105 billion but the cost to maintain the current level of services is $109 billion and factoring in growth sees an increase to $111 billion. So there is an essential $6 billion shortfall. The legislature will have to consider options such as cost containment and utilizing the “Rainy Day” fund to cover the shortfall.

    Ramos discussed the “elevator speech” strategy when making legislative visits and reviewed the materials that TCDD staff prepared to support members. The materials include documents that can be left behind with legislative staff on key TCDD priorities such as Employment, State Supported Living Center Consolidation and Closure, and Interest List Reduction. Ramos reviewed general discussion points on each of these topics.

  4. Public Policy Advocacy Strategies
    Jason Sabo of Frontera Strategy discussed the current political climate of the 85th Texas Legislature. He noted that divisions with the legislature are more within the Senate and House of Representatives than the political parties. He reviewed the emergency priorities of the Governor as well as the select priorities of the Lieutenant Governor and Speaker of the House noting that those priorities are vastly different. Sabo also discussed the state budget and reminded members that 84% of general revenue is spent on education and health and human services which makes the request for additional funding for those programs unpopular with legislators. He noted that a primary question will be if the legislature is willing to access the “Rainy Day” fund to pay for services.

    Sabo provided his recommendations for effective advocacy during the 85th Texas Legislature including developing a practical approach with realistic expectations. He suggested building credible research (e.g., how many individuals with IDD are employed) and was complimentary on the TCDD legislative material provided for members. He acknowledged that members were a resource and encouraged them to offer their experiences to legislative staff and to be persistent in requesting follow-up or subsequent visits.


Members were reminded of transportation options to the Texas Capitol. Council Chair Durheim adjourned the Committee of the Whole at 1:00 PM.

Beth Stalvey, Secretary to the Council