85th Legislative Session Budget Breakdown
The 85th Regular Legislative Session ended on Memorial Day. While we await the governor’s action on bills sent to his desk, I would like to share with you some highlights from Senate Bill 1 - the Texas State Budget. The 2018/2019 State Budget keeps spending flat at $217 Billion for the biennium, well below the rate of population and inflation growth and the Constitutional spending limit. While this budget was crafted during a revenue shortfall, its final form demonstrates the Legislature’s commitment to prioritizing the most important needs of all Texans and allocating our limited resources accordingly.
Our budget fully funds enrollment growth in public education, with an additional $75 Million to aid school districts experiencing rapid property value decreases. The budget also includes $47.5 Million for new instructional facilities and $25 million to bring high-speed broadband access to every campus. Quality Pre-K is supported with over $1.6 Billion, and our TRS-Care system for retired teachers received a two-year solvency fix implemented by House Bill 3976 and $350 Million in additional funding.
The Legislature increased funding over the last budget for TEXAS Grants and Educational Opportunity Grants at junior colleges, while adding to the number of Graduate Medical Education slots for physicians completing their residency requirement. Funding reductions were implemented in certain special items at public colleges and universities, including 4% reductions offered by each college, targeted spending cuts in non-essential activities. Community colleges receive formula funding totaling $22.9 million higher than 2016-2017 levels.
The new budget defunds Planned Parenthood and provides $18.3 million for Alternatives to Abortion programs. Overall Women’s Health services receive a $30.4 Million state funding increase over the 2016/2017 biennium.
After two years of work, the Select Committee on which I served to evaluate Mental Health needs in this state delivered suggestions to the Legislature on a strategy to address these critical needs. I am proud that our new budget provides $300 million for new construction, significant repairs and increased capacity at state mental health hospitals, $62.7 million to eliminate projected waiting lists for community mental health services for adults and children, and $37.5 million for a new mental health jail diversion program.
Department of Family and Protective Services
$130 Million is added to DFPS and Child Protective Services to increase rates to foster families and providers, reduce caseloads for CPS caseworkers, expand our foster care support system, and provide more effective Prevention and Early Intervention services.
Until the federal government acts on its promise to secure the southern border, Texas will continue to dedicate law enforcement resources to protect the state. $800 Million is dedicated to the Department of Public Safety for manpower and resources needed to accomplish this mission.
Maintenance of Public Facilities
Over $640 Million is appropriated for repairs and preservation of some of our state’s most important facilities, including our State Parks, the Alamo, healthcare facilities, and historic courthouses.
Overall increases in spending will fund critical transportation needs, $40 Million to support and expand Texas ports, planning authority to increase security measures at international points-of-entry, and ongoing, sustainable funding to facilitate efficient traffic movement and highway safety.