Two days after the legislative session was called to order and Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) was overwhelmingly elected to another term as Speaker of the House, the House has already issued a budget plan for the next biennium. It's the earliest budget issuance I can recall.
It's a baseline budget, barely increasing overall spending but increasing general revenue spending around 4%. While total spending would total $202 billion, general revenue spending totals $98.8 billion which is substantially below the $113 billion revenue projection by Comptroller Glenn Hegar. Obviously this budget was prepared before the $113 revenue number was known. The remainder of the total budget is mostly funded by the feds.
From press reports, here are some interesting budget tidbits:
- Funding for the Deparment of Public Safety of $900 million would come from the general fund, ending the diversion of gas tax funds from roads.
- Medicaid funding increases $1.8 billion – still no plans to embrace the federal funds offered by the Affodable Care Act.
- Fully funds education enrollment growth to the tune of $2.2 billion, but offers no other new money for education.
- Border security is well funded keeping the additional DPS troopers along the border for the next two years at a cost of $393 million.
- No new money is recommended for the Texas Enterprise Fund or the Emerging Technology Fund. Those funds are used to attract and encourage new businesses in Texas.
- The budget increases funding for Texas Grants, the primary finanical aid program for low and moderate income students.
The Senate should have their version of the budget ready next week.