Just after midnight late Wednesday evening, or more accurately, early Thursday morning, the House unanimously passed HB 1, the state budget. I am proud to support the House’s version of the budget which makes a historic investment in our public schools, adding a whopping $9 billion for our teachers and kids.
This budget continues the priorities of the House: reforming property taxes and fixing public school finance. Of the $9 billion, a majority of the money is spent through increasing the per student allotment by almost $900. A substantial portion of that additional money will go to actually lowering school district tax rates.
Some of the other highlights from the House’s version of the budget include:
■ $7 million to expand veterans assistance programs in rural areas
■ $173 million to increase capacity for mental health facilities to reduce waitlists
■ $30 million increase for Family and Protective Services to ensure that we have enough case workers to protect the most vulnerable Texans
■ $38 million to reduce DNA testing backlog, giving law enforcement the tools to take criminals off the streets
■ $200 million invested in the driver’s license program to reduce wait times and increase customer service
■ $73 to upgrade technology at state agencies which will help protect sensitive information while also bringing several state agencies the technological advances to make them more efficient and responsive to taxpayers
This week, we also passed a supplement to the current state budget to address issues that have arisen since the last legislative session. That supplemental budget included several important items, such as:
■ $2.7 billion to help with expenses related to the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey
■ $1.34 billion to increase funding to the Teachers Retirement System and allow it to issue a 13th check
■ $250 million in funding for county roads repair and maintenance
■ $100 million to fund children’s hospitals
It is important to note that both of these bills will now go to the Senate to either concur with the House versions or make changes which will be reconciled later in the legislative process.
Passing a state budget is not a simple process, and all of these numbers remain subject to change as HB 1 works its way through the process.
If you have any questions about specific items in the budget or other legislation that is making its way through the process, please contact me at email@example.com or (512) 463-0556 (Austin) or (903) 935-1141 (Marshall).