The approved state budget for the 2020-2021 biennium, HB 1, totals $250.7 billion, a 6.3% increase over the two-year budget approved by the 85th Legislature. The increase in General Revenue or tax-supported spending, compared to the 2018-19 state budget, is 9.5%. TAC created a budget document that identifies and tracks budget items of interest to county officials. Many of the items in HB 1 were contingent on passage of legislation. In addition, the final version of HB 1 includes funding to implement legislation that the lead budget-writers thought would become law. If funding for items of interest to counties was contingent on or affected by passage of other legislation, a link to the bill is provided in the budget document.
Property Tax /School Finance Reform (HB 3). The biggest increase in the 2020-2021 state budget, a total of $11.5 billion, is for increased state funding of public schools ($6.5 billion) and school district property tax relief ($5 billion). All of this was contingent on passage of HB 3, which Governor Abbott signed into law on June 12, 2019.
In addition to HB 1, SB 500, the supplemental bill for the 2018-2019 state budget, also includes items of interest to counties. These items are listed in the SB 500 columns in the budget document mentioned above, and are primarily funded by the Economic Stabilization Fund. The largest outlays of interest to counties include funds to: assist cities and counties in drawing down federal funds for Hurricane Harvey recovery, and long-term infrastructure projects by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ($838 million); develop and fund State Flood Plan projects ($840 million); and, repair and improve unsafe earthen dams ($150 million).
Other HB 1 funding highlights of interest to counties are listed below, along with information regarding any related, additional funding in SB 500.
- Zero funding for new construction of state hospitals and other inpatient Mental Health (MH) facilities – down from $300 million in the 2018-2019 budget ($445.4 million in SB 500).
- MH Community Hospitals – up by 11%, from $243.8 million in 2018-19 to $270.6 million in the 2020-2021 budget.
- Transportation Infrastructure Fund (TIF) – $125 million allocation from any available source of revenue to provide grants to eligible counties ($125 million for TIF grants in SB 500).
- No new funding for Disaster Grants – down from $126.8 million in 2018-2019 funding ($100 million in SB 500).
- Indigent Defense – an increase of $28 million, from $66.4 million in 2018-2019 to $94.4 million in the 2020-2021 budget.
- Courthouse Preservation – down from $21.5 million in 2018-2019 to $1.2 million in the 2020-2021 budget ($25 million in SB 500).
For more information on the state budget and other legislation affecting counties, be on the lookout for the TAC 2019 Legislative Analysis Report for the 86th
Legislature, Regular Session. Coming soon.