The Texas House Appropriations Committee approved its 2014-15 budget today. The $193.8 billion spending plan includes a $2.5 billion increase for the Foundation School Program. That’s in addition to what had already been set aside for enrollment growth and does not include tapping the Rainy Day Fund. The House version of the budget restores about a billion dollars more in education dollars than the Senate plan.

“By putting additional resources into Texas classrooms, this budget demonstrates that public education is a top priority for the members of the Texas House,” Committee Chairman Jim Pitts said. “The additional resources that this bill provides for public education and higher education will expand opportunities for young Texans.”

The full House will now have to approve the budget. Once that happens, the House bill and Senate bill will head to conference committee where compromises will have to be made in order to pass a final budget.

Here are some of the other highlights of the House budget:

MAINTAINS FISCAL DISCIPLINE

  • Stays below the constitutional spending limit
  • Funded within available revenue
  • Does not use Rainy Day Fund

 INCREASES FUNDING FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION

  • Fully funds enrollment growth
  • $2.5 billion increase for the Foundation School Program (in addition to enrollment growth)
  • $147 million to increase state’s contribution for TRS pensions from 6.4 percent to 6.6 percent

 INCREASES FUNDING FOR HIGHER EDUCATION

  • $175 million increase for financial aid programs, including $150 million increase for Texas Grants
  • 3 percent formula funding increase (on top of enrollment growth) for all institutions — community colleges, general academic institutions, and health related institutions.
  • $59 million increase for the Texas Competitive Knowledge Fund

 IMPROVES HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES PROGRAMS

  • $264 million increase for mental health programs (across all articles), which includes extending services to more than 6,000 adults and almost 300 children on waiting lists
  • $100 million increase for women’s health services
  • Increased funding for Child Protective Services to reduce delinquent investigations and lower caseloads to 2009 levels

 OTHER HIGHLIGHTS

  • $50 million increase for Parks and Wildlife Department (General Revenue and GR-Dedicated)
  • Salary increases for correctional officers and Schedule C employees (law enforcement)
  • 1 percent per year merit increases for state employees