Conferees on House Bill 1, the state budget for the 2020-2021 biennium, have found agreement on a significant portion of the budget. Compromises have been reached on items in Articles I - X, but details associated with health and human services funding, school finance and property tax relief have still not come into focus. The conferees continue to work with a May 24 deadline looming.
TAC has created a budget document that identifies and tracks those budget items of interest to county officials. In addition to HB 1, Senate Bill 500, the supplemental bill for the 2018-19 state budget, also includes items of interest that are still being negotiated, including $100 million for matching funds required by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for disaster grants and $250 million for transportation infrastructure grants to counties affected by increased oil and gas production. These items are listed in the SB 500 columns in the budget document mentioned above. The SB 500 conferees face the same May 24 deadline as the HB 1 conferees.
Some of the HB 1 funding highlights of interest to counties are listed below, along with information regarding any related, additional funding in SB 500. Again, none of this is final, but reflects where the 2020-21 state budget sits at this time.
- Zero funding for Disaster Grants – down from $126.8 million in 2018-19 funding ($100 million in SB 500 – Senate).
- County Essential Service Grants – down by 50%, from $4.6 million in 2018-19 to $2.3 million in the 2020-21 budget.
- Offset payments for Disabled Veterans Property Tax Relief – an increase of $13.5 million, from $6.5 million in 2018-19 to $20 million in the 2020-21 budget.
- Criminal Justice Grants – down by 14%, from $699.9 million in 2018-19 to $600.9 million in the 2020-21 budget.
- Economic Development – a 24.5% increase, from $429 million in 2018-19 to $534 million in 2020-21 to create jobs and economic growth ($50 million in SB 500 – House).
- Courthouse Preservation – down from $21.5 million in 2018-19 to $1.2 million in the 2020-21 budget.
- Mental Health (MH) Community Hospitals – up by 11%, from $243.8 million in 2018-19 to $270.6 million in the 2020-21 budget.
- County Indigent Health Care Services and Indigent Health Care Reimbursement – maintained at current funding levels of $0.8 million and $1.8 million, respectively.
- Substance Abuse Services – down by 10%, from $517.6 million in 2018-19 to $464.4 million in the 2020-21 budget.
- Zero funding for new construction of state hospitals and other inpatient MH facilities – down from $300 million in the 2018-19 budget ($300 million in Senate Bill 500 – Senate).
- Indigent Defense – an increase of $28 million, from $66.4 million in 2018-19 to $94.4 million in the 2020-21 budget.
- Pretrial Diversion Grants – a $4 million increase, from $6.3 million in 2018-19 to $10.3 million in the 2020-21 budget, in funds allocated for county pretrial diversion programs for misdemeanor and felony offenses.
- Emergency Management (Texas Division of Emergency Management) – down from $6.7 billion in 2018-19 to $3.5 billion in the 2020-21 budget mostly due to a reduction in FEMA funds for Hurricane Harvey and other disasters (more than $600 million for FEMA matching funds in SB 500 – House and Senate).
- Crime Laboratory Services – a $52.4 million increase, from $71.2 million in 2018-19 to $123.7 million in the 2020-21 budget to increase state crime laboratory capacity and reduce backlogs.
- Transportation Infrastructure Fund (TIF) – $125 million allocation from any available source of revenue to provide grants to eligible counties ($250 million for TIF grants in SB 500 – House).