Yesterday the Senate Finance Committee unanimously approved CSSB 1 (Committee Substitute for Senate Bill 1), which would spend $94 billion in General Revenue and $195 billion in total money on services for all Texans during fiscal 2014 and 2015, the budget cycle that starts this September.
Senators in charge of the various workgroups for the budget wanted to add $8.1 billion in General Revenue to the starting-point SB 1’s $88.9 billion, for a total of $97 billion allocated to schools, public universities and community colleges, health and human services, public safety, and other basic state functions. This $97 billion was also the amount estimated to be the bare minimum needed to pay for population and cost growth in the next two years while leaving most of the 2011 budget cuts in place. Instead, the $94 billion in CSSB 1 is $3 billion below that “bare bones” current services line, meaning $3 billion (3%) more in cuts to current services. These cuts could still be avoided if House and Senate budget-writers are willing to use remaining General Revenue and the Rainy Day Fund.
CSSB 1 also has an Article XI “wishlist” of almost $1.7 billion in General Revenue items that did not make it into the rest of the budget. These “Priority 2” items include some very significant needs, such as
- $135 million for a 50 cent hourly wage increase for community care workers;
- $154 million to expand community care and prevent waiting lists from getting longer;
- $24 million for Children with Special Health Care Needs;
- $19 million for child abuse/neglect prevention programs;
- $35 million and 380 staff for Child Protective Services investigations, conservatorship, and child care licensing;
- $49 million for Texas Grants financial aid;
- $18 million for public school accelerated instruction for dropout prevention;
- $52 million in new facilities aid for school districts.
As seen in the chart below, the inflation-adjusted budget levels proposed in CSSB 1 would maintain General Revenue spending at roughly the same levels as in 2012-13, or about $1,700 per Texas resident. All Funds spending would continue its downward trend. Even after adjusting for a method-of-finance change for state health science centers, All Funds spending would be $85 lower in 2015 than it was a decade earlier, in 2005 ($3,671).
Senate Budget Would Continue to Fall Short of Meeting Texans’ Needs