Last Thursday evening, my colleagues and I in the Texas House of Representatives passed the state budget by an overwhelming majority. This budget appropriates full funding for public school enrollment growth, boosts our state's commitment to law enforcement, health services, transportation infrastructure and other essential state programs. I am proud that this balanced budget addresses our population's most vital needs without raising taxes, and without breaking the spending cap. Some notable provisions of the budget include:
- 8.6% ($2.97 billion) increase in the Foundation School Program (the main source of funding for public schools);
- 3% increase in funding for Universities and Medical Schools;
- $150 million increase in Texas Grants financial aid for higher education;
- A significant increase in the state contribution to the Teacher Retirement System; and
- $210 million increase in mental health funding.
We have also made tremendous progress in several policy areas that are highly important to Texans. Several bills which would preserve and extend our 2nd Amendment Rights are making their way through the committee process and will soon be heard by the full House. Several bills are also being developed which would reduce the franchise tax or eliminate it altogether, providing tax relief to businesses across the state. The Appropriations Committee is considering House Bill 14, which would require that local elections on bond issues that would grow local debt be open and transparent so that voters know the financial impact of their decisions. I am proud to be a co-author of this bill that will increase transparency and accountability in local government.
This committee will also continue its work to reverse budget diversions, streamline state services and end duplicative programs which cost the taxpayers unwarranted excess dollars. I am also working to pass several measures which would require transparency in pricing on medical expenses, so that patients know beforehand what the cost of their treatment will be.
As we work through the final weeks of the legislative session, I will continue working to improve the efficiency of state government, invest in our state's critical infrastructure and provide a solid foundation of limited and reasonable state governance so that our state will continue to flourish.