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Texas House Proposes 2-Year Budget Package Worth $297.2 Billion

Budget plan
Texas House proposes billions of budget plan. (Photo: CNET)

The Texas House Appropriations Committee has proposed a two-year budget package totaling $297.2 billion and a “supplemental” spending bill of nearly $14 billion.

Budget plan

Texas House proposes billions of budget plan. (Photo: CNET)

Texas House Proposes Support for Colleges, Universities, and Businesses

The state is currently in a favorable financial position, with a $32.7 billion revenue surplus, thanks to Texas’ rapid economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and higher inflation. The House budget writers have proposed using $1.5 billion of the state’s revenue surplus to create the Texas Semiconductor Innovation Fund, which will support colleges, universities, and businesses in obtaining large grants for manufacturing and design projects.

The House also proposed spending $3.5 billion to give retired teachers a cost of living increase ranging from 2% to 6%, as well as a one-time payment of $5,000 to approximately 290,000 retired educators who are 70 years old or older.

Supplemental Spending Bill

However, the House budget writers have removed almost $3.9 billion from an emergency spending bill that the Senate wanted to spend on customer rate relief for costs incurred during the 2021 winter storm. Last week, when the Senate passed the supplemental spending bill, it included $3.86 billion to pay back the debt incurred by eight Texas gas utilities, including North Texas’ Atmos Energy, during the winter storm.

Houston Republican Senator Joan Huffman, the author of Senate Bill 30, estimated that paying off the debt now would save consumers about $1 billion in interest payments that would have shown up in monthly gas bills. However, the House budget writers removed the money from the House version of Senate Bill 30.

Increasing the Amount on School Safety

On Thursday, House Appropriations Committee members increased the amount they would spend on school safety from $600 million to $1.6 billion, which is closer to the Texas Education Agency’s price tag for school hardening needs identified after last May’s gun massacre in Uvalde.

However, some lawmakers are dissatisfied with the House budget package’s commitment to public schools. Democratic Representative Trey Martinez Fischer, who heads the House Democratic Caucus, said that only $5 billion of the state’s available revenue would be added to the hold-the-line budget bills filed in January, and that the House’s budget package would not do enough for public schools.

The Legislature is approaching its only must-pass bill, the next cycle’s state budget, in a good position. Despite the Senate and House’s different approaches to spending, both budgets will be reconciled in the coming weeks, and a final bill will be sent to Governor Greg Abbott’s desk for approval.

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