FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 05/29/2015
HOUSE APPROVES RESPONSIBLE STATE BUDGET
AUSTIN – The Texas House gave overwhelming final approval Friday to House Bill 1, a balanced and disciplined state budget for the next two years. The budget was also approved in the Texas Senate and now heads to Governor Greg Abbott.
The $209 billion budget represents growth of 3.6 percent in All Funds, or less than 2 percent per year, and it stays beneath the spending limit in the Texas Constitution. While restraining overall spending, it prioritizes education, transportation and border security. It also reflects the House’s considerable efforts to increase transparency and accountability in state spending.
“This is a responsible plan focused on some very critical priorities,” said House Speaker Joe Straus, San Antonio. “This balanced budget puts more resources in our classrooms, strengthens our transportation infrastructure and makes needed investments in mental health and trauma care.”
House Bill 1 highlights the following priorities:
Education: The bill pays for an increase of roughly 80,000 students per year in the state’s overall public school enrollment. On top of that investment, it provides an additional $1.5 billion for public education. The budget also provides more resources for higher education, including graduate medical education and TEXAS Grants, the state’s signature financial aid program.
Transportation: Reversing a decades-old practice, the budget uses all of the money in the State Highway Fund for transportation instead of using some of those dollars for other programs. It also includes an infusion of oil-and-gas tax revenue made possible by voters’ approval of a constitutional amendment in November 2014.
Transparency: In addition to using all of the State Highway Fund revenue for transportation, the budget takes a number of other steps to use taxes and fees for their intended purpose. Using more revenue as intended allows House Bill 1 to provide additional resources for hospital trauma care, state parks and other priorities.
Border Security: House Bill 1 provides $840 million in All Funds for border security. That investment, a significant increase over the current budget, will allow for the hiring of 250 new Department of Public Safety troopers and allow a 50-hour work week for all troopers. It will also fund the implementation of House Bill 11, which will bring consistency to the state’s border security strategy.
Long-Term Obligations: The budget provides funding to address a shortfall in retired teachers’ health care and to address the solvency of the state employee pension system.
Mental Health: The budget increases funding for behavioral health and substance abuse services by $151 million, providing additional resources for both inpatient and outpatient services.
“Our commitment to fiscal discipline remains intact,” Speaker Straus said. “The House is profoundly grateful to Chairman Otto and his team for their outstanding work on this budget.”