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Comptroller News

HEALTH CARE

Comptroller says state is failing the Border in CHIP and Medicaid

Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn said in March that state budget cuts in the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Medicaid are hurting residents in the Texas Border region.

"In Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program, as in education, this state is abdicating its responsibilities--and ignoring state challenges is creating local crises," Strayhorn said.

State budget cuts caused CHIP enrollment in Hidalgo County to drop 23 percent in six months. That's 6,800 children since September 2003, Strayhorn said. The county also has 166,000 adults and children enrolled in Medicaid, yet the South Texas Health System, which serves the county, expects a reduction from state budget cuts of about $6 million in Medicaid funding this year.

"I've said it before, and I'll say it again," said Strayhorn. "This is not just a challenge for the Border. This is not just a challenge for South Texas. This is a challenge for all Texans. Texas is great, but we can do better!"


ENERGY

SECO offers free energy efficiency workshops

The Comptroller's State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) is helping local governments achieve energy efficiency within their facilities with free one-day energy efficiency workshops. The workshops provide valuable information for local governments affected by Senate Bill 5, the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan, established by the 2001 Texas Legislature.

Participants receive five professional development hours of continuing education. The workshop will cover topics such as energy efficient lighting systems; high-efficiency heating; ventilation and air conditioning systems; and water/waste water improvements.

Consulting firm Carter & Burgess will present the workshop in Dallas on April 15 and in Houston on April 29. The registration form is located on the SECO Web site, www.seco.cpa.state.tx.us. For more information, call Theresa Sifuentes at 1-800-531-5441 ext. 3-1896.


TAX REFUNDS

State offers tax refunds for economic development

Some property owners may be able to get a refund on school taxes they paid in 2003. The Texas Tax Code requires the Comptroller's office to issue state tax refunds to qualified property owners who entered into property tax abatement agreements after January 1, 1996, with a city or county. The city or county must have granted a tax abatement for the owner's property, but not the school district.

To be eligible for a refund, property owners must meet several criteria. For more information or to apply for a refund, contact Patricia Bailey at the Comptroller's Property Tax Division, patricia.bailey@cpa.state.tx.us, 1-800-252-9121, ext. 3-4416. To claim a refund for 2003 school taxes, a property owner must submit an application to the Comptroller's office by July 31, 2004.


REVENUE

Sales tax collections increase

Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn announced that state sales tax revenue in February totaled more than $1.26 billion, up 6.2 percent compared with February 2003.

Strayhorn delivered March sales tax payments of $206.1 million to Texas cities, up 9.3 percent compared with March 2003; $17.4 million to Texas counties, up 4.1 percent compared with a year ago; $7.6 million to 82 special-purpose taxing districts, up 1 percent compared with last March; and $72.3 million in sales tax rebates to nine local transit systems, up 7.6 percent compared with a year ago.

State sales tax revenue for February is based mainly on sales that occurred in January.