The Senate Finance Committee today unanimously recommended its new budget for the next two years. The proposal includes $94.1 billion dollars in general revenue.

According to committee chair Tommy Williams (R-The Woodlands), the budget emphasizes education and mental health. In addition to funding enrollment growth, the committee also allocated an extra $1.4 billion for school districts across the state.

“The Committee felt strongly about maintaining our commitment to increasing school funding equity and a quality education,”  Williams said. “This investment of resources reaffirms that commitment to the courts.”

Sen. Williams also highlighted these portions of the budget:

  • $746 million increase for higher education, including $204 million for community college formula funding and employee benefits;
  • $120 million for TEXAS Grants on top of $559.5 million in general revenue in the base bill;
  • $6 million in general revenue and 50 full-time employees to address Veteran’s issues;
  • $100 million general revenue for primary care expansion to provide preventive health care to an additional 170,000 low-income women;
  • $18.7 million (offset by $15 million in savings) for 106 additional employees in the Office of Inspector General to reduce costs from Medicaid fraud and overpayment investigations;
  • $80.8 million added to formula funding for health-related institutions, including the health-related institution formula for graduate medical education;
  • Closing two Texas Department of Criminal Justice  facilities for savings of nearly $100 million. The savings will help fund required correctional health care ($45 million), parole supervision ($10 million), community corrections and diversion programs ($30 million), and other basic needs, such as computers, vehicles and an electronic management system to maintain the prison system, and
  • $139 million in general revenue to increase salaries  to improve correctional officer, health care provider, and officer retention.

Sen. Williams did express some concern over some items not included in the budget, including funds for water projects, state highways and small business tax relief. He said those issues would be addressed later in the legislative session. The full Senate is expected to consider SB1 next week.