Texas lawmakers gave overwhelming approval to a two-year state budget Saturday.


The $217 billion spending package is the only must-pass measure before the Legislature adjourns Monday.


One of the biggest sticking points had been whether to tap into the state’s savings account to help fill a $2.5 billion budget gap – or – delay dollars from the state’s highway fund. Lawmakers agreed to do both, using about $1 billion from the Rainy Day Fund and another $1.8 billion from an accounting trick related to transportation funding approved in 2015.


“This is a responsible budget that meets our essential needs,” Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound said. “It continues the policies of fiscal restraint that have shaped our success, and it positions Texas for a bright future.”


The budget maintains border security funding at $800 million. It also boosts funding for the state’s troubled child welfare system providing an additional $508 million for child protection.


“We started with a sizable shortfall, but we are ending this session with a balanced budget that invests in some very important priorities,” House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, said in a statement. “We’re keeping overall spending low while improving child protection and mental health care.”


But lawmakers put little new money into public schools.


Higher education also took a hit – but for now maintains a program known as special items.


Another highlight includes the film incentives program which lawmakers once zeroed out. The program ended up coming away with some funding for the next two years.



Posted by Karina Kling