January 23, 2015
By Paul K. Emerson, TAC State Financial Analyst
Last Thursday, the House released its initial proposed budget of $202.4 billion for the upcoming biennium (2016-17). This amount reflects a slight increase of 0.2 percent over the current estimated budget of $202.1 billion, which ends Aug. 31.
In terms of general revenue, the House proposes to use $98.8 billion, but according to the recently released Biennial Revenue Estimate (BRE’s) from the Comptroller’s office, $113 billion is projected to be available for general-purpose spending. In short, this leaves at least $10 billion on the table for other priorities that may be deemed important by the House members.
The House’s initial budget addresses key priorities, such as:
- Transportation – Ends diversions of the State Highway Fund.
- Border Security – Funds the Department of Public Safety’s border operations through August 2017.
- Mental Health – Expands mental health services and commits additional dollars to mental health care for veterans.
- Child Protection Courts – Funds four new child protection courts in West and rural Texas.
- Public Education – Funds enrollment growth in public schools over the next two years.
This marks the beginning point of the budget process for members on the House Appropriations Committee, which Speaker Joe Straus has not named yet.
TAC’s County Information Program (CIP) plans to release a detailed comparison report between the proposed budgets of the two chambers showing how county programs fared, soon after the Senate releases its beginning budget for fiscal years 2016-17. A breakdown of the final state budget for fiscal years 2014-15 is available for comparison on TAC’s website.
For more information, contact Paul Emerson, TAC state financial analyst, at (800) 456-5974.