Senate Version of Budget Seeks to Restore Some Funding

April 21, 2011
By Paul K. Emerson, TAC State Financial Analyst
Legislative News

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On Thursday, April 21, the Senate Finance Committee voted in favor of SB 1. Out of 15 committee members, only four voted against the bill. The state budget, now known as the committee substitute (CSSB 1), will most likely reach the Senate floor next Wednesday, which is the earliest the Senate can debate the bill.

CSSB 1 totals $176.5 billion for all funds, which is $12 billion more than the House version. More information on CSSB 1 will be provided at a later date. The information below represents recommendations the Senate Finance members adopted during the past three weeks.

Most of the funding restored large cuts in health and human services and education.

Recommendations Adopted in SB 1
Senate Finance restored other priority cuts that are significant to counties. These proposed recommendations include:

  • Restoring $7.3 million to the County Lateral Road Fund and the Gross Weight Axle Fee Fund in the Comptroller’s Fiscal Programs.
  • Restoring $25 million to the Local Government Disaster Fund in the Governor’s Trusteed Programs. This budget item was placed in Article 11 (also known as the wish list).
  • Restoring $20 million to the Courthouse Restoration grant program in the Historical Commission bill pattern.
  • Restoring $25 million to the Low Income Vehicle Repair Assistance Program (LIRAP) in the TCEQ budget.
  • Restoring funding for jail inspections.
  • Restoring $31 million to keep the minimum security Central Unit in Sugarland.

These are only a few of the recommendations that were adopted by the Senate Finance Committee during its deliberation. The bill's next step will be the Senate floor. Floor amendments typically are not offered on the Senate version of the state budget.

No New Taxes 
With no new taxes being offered, the obvious question now becomes: where will the money come from? A group of key senators are looking at non-tax revenue and the possibility of using additional money from the Rainy Day Fund. Another suggestion that recently surfaced was to use an extra $2 billion from the state’s public school trust fund, which would be used directly on education.

For more information on this article, contact Paul Emerson, TAC state financial analyst, at (800) 456-5974.