Supplemental Spending Bill
The House passed CSSB 500 by Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound), the supplemental appropriations bill for the current biennium budget, 2018-2019. The bill represents $9.3 billion in funding - $2.7 billion of General Revenue, $2.3 billion in federal funds, and $4.3 billion from the Economic Stabilization Fund (ESF). The Legislative Budget Board has an excellent infographic for SB 500, as substituted by the House, which outlines the exact appropriations made by the House. The House heard and considered seven prefiled amendments, two of which were adopted.
The first House floor amendment by Rep. Geanie Morrison (R-Victoria) moved $12.7 million from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to eight community colleges impacted by Hurricane Harvey.
The second House floor amendment by Rep. Dan Hueberty (R-Houston) directed that of the money appropriated to the Texas Division of Emergency Management, $30 million in funding be used to provide a grant to Harris County for the purchase and operation of equipment to remove accumulated siltation and sediment deposits located at the confluence of the San Jacinto River and Lake Houston.
The supplemental appropriation contains $250 million to help fund county roads that may have been impacted by energy sector activities. Chairman John Zerwas (R-Richmond) confirmed the funding would be distributed in the manner outlined in current law.
SB 500 will now head back to the Senate and, unless the Senate confirms the changes made by the House, the bill will head to conference.
House Budget Bill
The House voted out CSHB 1, the House’s version of the State budget for 2020-2021 by Chairman John Zerwas (R-Richmond) on Mar. 27. The House budget reflects an appropriation of $116.5 billion funded from General Revenue and an overall budget of $251.1 billion when considering all funds. House members considered 307 amendments, of which only a handful were adopted. All adopted amendments were supported by Chairman Zerwas, didn’t make significant changes in appropriations, and were largely clarifying. A handful of amendments were withdrawn but the bulk were sent to Article XI, which represents a wish-list of items the House may address should funding become available.
Chairman Zerwas highlighted that the House budget reflects $9 billion in foundation in school programs. It will increase the State’s share of funding public education to roughly 42 percent, reduces reliance on recapture to fund public schools, and infuses $50 million for special education. The House budget also reflects $120.3 million for school safety, $8.6 billion in behavior health, $168 million for pay raises for correction officers, $22 million for increased salaries for Adult Protective Services, and $73 million for IT/cybersecurity. Chairmen Zerwas indicated that the more favorable federal medical assistance percentage allowed the state to fund expected Medicaid growth and he doesn’t believe the State will have a need for a significant supplemental appropriation in 2021. About 85 percent of the budget is spent on health and human services and education.
The bill will be sent to the Senate and expected to be referred to Senate Finance early next week.