We are pleased to report that the Legislative Finance Committee has posted its Request for Proposals (RFP) for those consultants who want to apply to conduct the fiscal analysis of the Health Security Act. Proposals are due October 16.
As you know, the legislature and the governor approved funding for this project. This crucial step was a great victory for the Campaign. At a time when so many are frustrated that politicians are not listening to them, our state legislature and the governor heard your voices.
But now, we must report some devastating news.
Senator Carlos Cisneros, our longtime, dedicated Health Security sponsor, died suddenly of a suspected heart attack on Tuesday morning. He was the Vice Chair of the Senate Finance Committee.
While Sen. Cisneros was greatly occupied with state budget concerns, as well as the issues expressed by the constituents of his geographically large district, he always wanted to take the time to be the key senate Health Security Act sponsor--a role he played for 14 years. He managed to be there for critical legislative hearings even though he was immensely tied up in Senate Finance Committee business. He understood how significant the Health Security Act was to our state and provided astute insights and suggestions on the bill based on his years of legislative experience. The Health Security Act is a better bill because of him.
It is also because of Sen. Cisneros that there is funding for the fiscal analysis of the Health Security Plan.
As you are aware, oil and gas revenues were greater than projected in the proposed state budget (House Bill 2) up for approval this past legislative session. A supplemental budget (House Bill 2 Junior) was subsequently introduced. Because of the extra revenue, each legislator would receive a set amount of dollars that could be spent in any way they chose, and HB2 Junior would contain those requested allocations.
Our executive director, Mary Feldblum, describes the situation when rumors were floating around about HB2 Junior during the last few weeks of the session:
"Carlos called me into his office. He felt that Junior was our opportunity to get the fiscal analysis funding--a much safer route than going through HB2 (the state budget). He immediately asked me to talk to the Legislative Council Service's Junior bill drafter to make sure that any Junior fiscal analysis request language made it very clear that the legislator's requested funds would go to the Legislative Finance Committee and could only be used to conduct a fiscal analysis of Health Security. He did not want any ambiguity about the purpose of these funds.
As a result, I spoke to several legislators about their willingness to dedicate some of their allotted funds to take this crucial step for Health Security. Our original budget request for the fiscal analysis was $375,000. Carlos dedicated part of his share to the study. Reps. Bill Pratt, Bobby Gonzales, and Gail Chasey contributed as well. Others were also willing to contribute, but when it became clear that $389,000 had been allocated for this study, we knew we had more than achieved our goal.
Carlos was so excited about this development. In fact, as I was trying to talk to legislators about donating some of their allocated funds to the fiscal analysis, he would text me and want to know the latest totals.
After the session ended, we were in constant communication about the RFP process. It is so heartrending that he died the same day the RFP became public. How pleased he would have been."
We have lost a great friend and a critical voice on the Legislative Finance Committee--a voice that would have helped to ensure that the LFC-selected consultants provide a thorough and quality analysis. We take comfort in knowing that the fiscal analysis that he helped to make possible is moving forward.