January 30, 2015
By Paul K. Emerson, TAC State Financial Analyst
Earlier this week, the Senate released its initial proposed budget of $205.1 billion for the upcoming biennium, which covers fiscal years 2016-17. Also known as Senate Bill 2 (SB 2), the Senate base budget is roughly $3 billion more than the current budget ($202.1 billion), which is only a 1.5 percent increase.
SB 2 is also slightly higher ($3 billion) than the House base budget plan that was released last week. More importantly, SB 2 allows for $3 billion in property tax relief, as well as $1 billion in franchise tax relief for business owners. Various bills which will address how both property tax relief plans will work have yet to be filed.
Other items of interest noted in SB 2: the Public Integrity Unit housed in the Travis County District Attorney’s Office is not funded nor is the Texas Racing Commission.
SB 2 also ends the practice of spending money from the gas tax on other non-transportation-related priorities. SB 2 will make a one-time transfer of $1.2 billion from the motor vehicle sales tax to the State Highway Fund. It will also transfer $2.6 billion in funding to the State Highway Fund as a result of Proposition 1, which was approved by voters last fall.
SB 2 addresses border security by spending $815 million, which is $422 million more than the House base budget.
Other Senate priorities include:
- An increase of $20 million in General Revenue Funds to implement a grant program to provide mental health services to veterans;
- An increase of $50 million in General Revenue Funds to implement the women’s health programs as designated in accordance with the recommendations of the Sunset Advisory Commission; and
- An increase of $18.1 million in General Revenue Funds to address contract per diem increase for contract prisons, privately operated state jails, and residential pre-parole facilities, and to replace reduced federal funding.
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 within the next couple of weeks. A breakdown of the final state budget for fiscal years 2014-15 is available for comparison on TAC’s website.
See our article, House Releases its Proposed Budget, for additional information on the House base budget plan.
For more information, contact Paul Emerson, TAC state financial analyst, at (800) 456-5974.