News Article | March 31, 2023
House, Senate Committees Advance Budget Bills; Here Are County Highlights
On Thursday, the House Appropriations Committee adopted substitutes for House Bill 1, the general appropriations bill for the 2024-25 biennium, and Senate Bill 30, the supplemental appropriations bill, which plugs holes and captures savings in the current two-year budget. Both bills were sent to the House Calendars Committee, with House floor action scheduled for April 6.
On Monday, the Senate Finance Committee enacted its workgroups' recommendations for Senate Bill 1, the Senate's version of the state budget for 2024-25 . The House and Senate switch back and forth from session to session on which chamber originates the budget bill. This cycle it's the House's turn, so the 2024-25 appropriations act will be HB 1.
Accordingly the Senate will wait to receive HB 1 as approved by the House. The bill will be referred to Senate Finance, where it will be replaced with the committee's recommendations and then adopted by the Senate. The budget bill will then come back to the House, where members will refuse to concur with Senate changes and request a conference committee. Typically, the conference committee report on the budget is approved by both chambers around May 26-27, a few days before sine die.
Both chambers' budget proposals and versions of SB 30 include significant spending to increase inpatient psychiatric bed capacity in both urban and rural areas of the state. Such an investment by the state may eventually reduce the fiscal burden on county jails of serving as the state's largest mental health provider. Likewise, the $350 million included in HB 1 and SB 1 for a county rural law enforcement fund will provide much-needed grants to law enforcement in rural communities.
Here are some of the county-specific highlights from the House Committee Substitute for HB 1 (CSHB 1).
- $10 million in general revenue funds for grants to local governments to upgrade technology to implement incident-based reporting or maintain interoperable communications systems.
- A rider authorizing the Governor to accept and administer the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) State and Local Cybersecurity Grant Program and distribute funds to local governments. The grants must be for one-time cybersecurity services to avoid creating an unfunded mandate for local governments.
- $1 million in general revenue funds for additional positions and other expenses to provide election security training for county election officials.
- A rider authorizing the carry-forward of the unexpended balance in funds appropriated in the 2022-23 appropriations act, to reimburse counties for auditable voting machine costs. (According to data supplied by the Secretary of State's office, only 45 counties are eligible to receive reimbursement.)
Mental/Behavioral Health Services
- $127.3 million in general revenue funds to address increased operational costs and workforce shortages at local mental health and behavioral health authorities and local intellectual and development disability authorities. Money would be distributed proportionately based on 2023 funding.
- $68.5 million in general revenue funds to ramp up funding for the new state psychiatric hospital in Dallas. (SB 30 includes additional funding for this item and other increases in state inpatient psychiatric bed capacity.)
- $34.6 million in general revenue funds to operate all 168 state-funded beds at the John S. Dunn Behavioral Sciences Center in Houston. (HB 1, as filed, includes $64.1 million in general revenue funds to operate 144 beds at the Dunn Center.)
- $19 million in general revenue funds to operate the additional inpatient psychiatric beds at Sunrise Canyon Hospital funded by SB 8, 87th Legislature, third-called session.
- $150,000 for the Texas Judicial Commission on Mental Health to begin systems sequential intercept model (SIM) mapping workshops for youth, like the SIM mapping workshops that identify resources within and diversions from the criminal justice system for adults with behavioral health issues.
- Texas Indigent Defense Commission:
- $20 million in general revenue funds to develop public defender services in 50 rural counties where none currently exist.
- $11.4 million in general revenue-dedicated funds to maintain current indigent defense grant funding levels.
- $20 million in general revenue funds to adjudicate felony Operation Lone Star cases.
Judicial Pay Raise
- An estimated $36.8 million in general revenue and other funds for the entire judiciary based on a 5% annual increase in district judge pay. All judicial, county and district attorneys, specific prosecutor salaries and salary supplements, and constitutional county judge supplements are statutorily linked to the state district judge's base salary.
Juvenile Justice Department/Juvenile Probation Departments
- $6.2 million in general revenue funds for pre- and post-adjudication facilities. (HB 1, as filed, includes $57.6 million for adjudication facilities.)
- $4.4 million in general revenue funds for regional diversion alternatives. (HB 1, as filed, includes $35.6 million for diversion alternatives. Total funding supports a diversion target of 245 youth.)
- $3 million in general revenue funds for validated risk and needs assessment tool for local juvenile probation departments.
- $304 million in general revenue and other funds for Rural Water Assistance project financing.
Texas DMV PageTitle and Registration System
- $6.8 million in other funds and capital budget authority for Phase 1 of the replacement of the DMV registration and titling system.
- Adds $500 million in general revenue funds for broadband development programs contingent on legislation and the constitutional dedication of funds for that purpose.
Rural County Law Enforcement Fund
- Re-directs $19.2 million of $350 million Rural County Law Enforcement fund to law enforcement continuing education grant funds and Sam Houston State University Law Enforcement Management Institute.
- $150 million in general revenue funds for disaster assistance unrelated to border security.
- $100 million in general revenue funds for a one-time community mental health grant program for county-based collaboratives such as jail diversion facilities, crisis stabilization and respite units. Matching requirements: 25% local match if the collaborative includes a county with a population of less than 100,000; 50% match if the collaborative includes a county with a population of 100,000 or more but less than 250,000; 100% match if the collaborative includes a county with a population of 250,000 or more.
- $170 million in general revenue funds for a one-time grant program to construct a mental health inpatient facility with at least 50% forensic capacity – $85 million for 100 inpatient beds in the Rio Grande Valley region, $50 million for 100 inpatient beds in Montgomery County and $40 million for 60 inpatient beds in Victoria County.
- Although the allocation of funds for the one-time mental health grant programs discussed above is included in the two-year budget, CSSB 1, the funding for these items is provided by SB 30, the 2023 supplemental appropriations bill. SB 30, as substituted by both budget-writing committees, includes $2.321 billion in general revenue funds for construction of state hospitals and additional inpatient bed capacity.
- $1 billion in general revenue funds for the Texas Water Fund contingent on enactment of legislation and the constitutional dedication of funds for this purpose (SB 28/SJR 5).
Contingency Appropriation for Bail Reform
- $2.9 million in general revenue funds contingent on the enactment of SB 1318 or similar legislation, relating to the release of defendants on bail, the duties of a magistrate in certain criminal proceedings and the appointment of certain criminal law hearing officers.
For more on this article and the state appropriations process, contact Zelma Smith.