AUSTIN, Texas – The Texas Credit Union Department is seeking additional appropriations authority from the state to pay senior examiners a competitive salary and is seeking to pass a bill that will streamline regulation and operation of credit unions. These are the key goals for this legislative session as presented by Texas Credit Union Commissioner Harold Feeney at the Texas Governmental Affairs Conference. The TCUD continues to face a problem of high examiner turnover. The Texas Credit Union League worked with the TCUD in the 2001 legislative session to secure additional funding authorization, but they will fight the battle again in 2003. The TCUD will request an additional $240,000 over the funding level for the 2002-2003 biennium. The money to fund the TCUD really should not be part of the appropriations process, according to TCUL's General Counsel Ann Graham. Funds come from assessments and examination fees paid by the credit unions. The state merely authorizes the TCUD to spend money collected. Credit unions support the TCUD's request for enough money to pay competitive salaries, she said. "Nobody wants inexperienced examiners reviewing complex financial institutions." In its Jan. 23 interim report, the Texas House Financial Institutions Committee, which oversees the TCUD, reported that the department regulates and supervises 247 state-chartered credit unions with combined total assets exceeding $15 billion. During the last six years, when the TCUD averaged a turnover ratio of 32% in its examination staff, total assets in credit unions increased 105%. Although the additional appropriations would involve no new taxes, the battle has been difficult the last several legislative sessions. In addition to adequate funding for examiner pay, the TCUD will seek to pass a Credit Union Department Modernization Act this legislative session. The bill represents changes to Chapter 15 of the Finance Code and Chapters 121-126, "The Texas Credit Union Act" which are intended to modernize, clean up and conform provisions that promote more efficient regulation and operation of credit unions. The bill was assembled through the Credit Union Commissioner/credit union industry drafting task force. -

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