Final Budget Sent to the Governor
Despite our tendencies to file thousands of bills and resolutions, there is only one bill which the Constitution requires the Legislature to pass each legislative session: The Budget.
On May 26th, the 139th day of the 140 day biennial session, the House and Senate finalized the 2014-2015 General Appropriations Act and sent it to the Governor for final approval. The budget includes additional funding for the Teacher Retirement System to make the fund actuarially sound. This budget increases per-student funding statewide, and accounts for enrollment growth in each of the state's public school districts. It fully funds, but does not expand Medicaid. The budget also includes new state funding to provide the Health and Human Services Commission with the tools they need to actively identify waste, fraud and abuse in the existing Medicaid program.
Not only have we made tremendous progress in ending our state's reliance on dedicated treasury accounts to balance our state budget, we have also taken several major steps to end the practice of employing budget diversions, payment deferrals and other distorted accounting procedures which hide the true cost of government.
Another key component of our state's budget reforms is the passage of SB 1458, which grants all retired teachers who have been retired for more than ten years an automatic 3% cost of living increase in their monthly pension payments. These critical reforms, along with the additional funding allocated to the Teacher Retirement System in the newly-adopted state budget, will move our state's public pension program toward long term financial solvency and helps to ensure that school employees across Texas receive retirement benefits that live up to the standards that were promised to them when they chose to dedicate their lives to teaching and mentoring the next generation of Texans.
Below are a few news articles written on the budget.
Reuters: Texas lawmakers pass budget restoring money cut from schools
Texas Tribune: Interactive: 2014-15 School Finance Budget Viewer
Houston Chronicle: $197 billion, two-year budget heads to Perry
Dallas Morning News: Overcoming objections from the right, House finishes work on Texas budget
Austin American Statesman: State budget relies less on accounting chicanery
Bloomberg: Texas Legislators Pass Two-Year Budget That Shorts Schools by $4 Billion