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Comptroller News

HEALTH CARE

Uninsured: Texas cities
exceed U.S. average

About one in four Texans lacked health insurance at some point in 2003, according to an April 2005 study by Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn. The U.S. average was more than one in six.

Every major metropolitan area in Texas exceeded the U.S. average, according to The Uninsured: A Hidden Burden on Texas Employers and Communities.

"The sheer number of uninsured Texans ultimately makes health care less affordable for Texas employers and individuals alike," Strayhorn said. "Many of the costs involved in providing health care to the uninsured ultimately are shifted to those who have health insurance-and to Texas taxpayers."

The report is available online at www.window.state.tx.us/specialrpt/uninsured05/.


AWARDS

Forgotten Children report honored

Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn's report on foster children in Texas was awarded the 2005 Public Integrity Award from the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA).

"The report left this one tough grandma one heartbroken grandma," Strayhorn said. "I hope the recognition this report has won will keep everyone focused on the plight of the forgotten children in our foster care system."

In April 2004, Strayhorn released Forgotten Children, a special report that exposed serious deficiencies in Texas' foster care system, including gross mismanagement of policies, procedures, placements and investigations that clearly left children in unsafe and abusive situations.

In announcing the award, ASPA said, "The resolve and dedication of the Comptroller and her staff in shedding the most unapologetic, brightest light into some of the state government's darkest corners and to use their substantial and collective skills and experience to push the results of their research into meaningful change for the sake of our children reflects the highest level of public integrity."


LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Strayhorn identifies
potential savings

In April, Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn released the results of her Local Government Management Review of Jefferson County's budget office and overall budgeting process, which could save the county more than $18 million.

"My report contains 16 detailed recommendations that, if adopted, would improve services and operations in Jefferson County and save taxpayers more than $18 million over the next five years," Strayhorn said.

Strayhorn's key recommendations include: instituting a strong system of internal controls over expenditures and revenues; rebuilding a dangerously low fund balance, which has been steadily declining for at least the last five years; creating a budget and strategic planning office; and providing financial reports to the Jefferson County Commissioners Court in a timely manner so it can make informed decisions on all budgetary issues.


SALES TAX

Sales tax collections increase in March

In April, Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn said the state received $1.2 billion in sales tax revenue in March, a 2 percent increase compared with March 2004.

Local sales tax revenues also continue to grow. Strayhorn sent $311.4 million in April sales tax allocations to cities, counties, transit systems and special purpose taxing districts, a 5.5 percent increase compared with April 2004. So far in 2005, sales tax allocations to local governments are up 6.5 percent.

Strayhorn sent April sales tax allocations of $211.7 million to Texas cities, up 6.3 percent compared with April 2004. In the calendar year to date, city sales tax allocations are running nearly 7 percent higher than in 2004.