State Budget Update: Items of Interest to Counties

April 26, 2019

Legislative News

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Now that both chambers have adopted their versions of the 2020-21 budget, House Bill 1, Speaker Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton) and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R-Houston) have appointed members to a conference committee to reconcile the differences between the bills. The House and Senate conferees and their assignments in the reconciliation process are listed below.

House   Senate
John Zerwas (R-Richmond), Chair
Oscar Longoria (D-Mission), Articles I, IV, V
Sarah Davis (R-West University Place), Article II
Greg Bonnen (R-Friendswood), Article III
Armando Walle (D-Houston), Articles VI, VII, VIII
  Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound), Chair
Joan Huffman (R-Houston), Articles I, IV, V
Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham), Article II
Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood), Article III
Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville), Articles VI, VII, VIII

The difference between the House and Senate versions of the 2020-21 budget is $3.4 billion in All Funds and $336 million in General Revenue (see State Budget Recap table). The biggest difference between the two chambers is the use of the Economic Stabilization Fund (ESF) – the House appropriates $2.3 billion from ESF in HB 1, and the Senate appropriates no ESF funds. Issue dockets and rider comparisons that lay out the differences between the House and Senate bills by article can be found on the Legislative Budget Board web site.

TAC has prepared a worksheet comparing the House and Senate versions of HB 1 to assist TAC members in monitoring items of importance in HB 1. This comparison includes items in Article XI, the so-called wish list article, consisting of items that either chamber may choose to fund should additional funds become available. The worksheet also includes items funded through SB 500, the supplemental appropriations bill.

One item funded in SB 500 that will be of interest to counties is the $250 million appropriation for the Transportation Infrastructure Fund (TIF). This appropriation was made by the House but not reflected in the Senate version so it will be an item of discussion during the SB 500 conference committee deliberations. For more information on SB 500, we include a link to a comprehensive comparison of the House and Senate versions of SB 500 prepared by the Conference on Urban Counties.

The Conference Committee on HB 1 can be expected to meet over the next few weeks. Here's some of the important House and Senate rules that govern the budget reconciliation process.

  • For any given spending item included in both bills, the conferees may not set the amount lower than the smaller of the two amounts nor increase it above the larger amount.
  • If an item appears in only one bill, the conferees may include or delete it.
  • Conferees may not include an item in the conference committee report that does not appear in either the House or the Senate bill. However, the Conference Committee may seek permission from the House and the Senate to make changes that are "outside the bounds," i.e., prohibited by the rules, via a resolution specifying the changes.
  • The Conference Committee may add contingent appropriations for bills that have been passed by at least one chamber.
For additional information, please contact Zelma Smith, TAC Financial Analyst, at (800) 456-5974.