On March 22, the Republican-controlled Texas Senate passed Texas budget bill SB 1, which increases funding for public schools, colleges, and health care, provides a pay raise for public employees, and expands mental health services. Share the news: Tweet
SB 1 was filed on January 15 by Republican State Senator Tommy Williams, chair of the Finance Committee. Williams' proposed budget is a response to the drastic cuts made in the 2011 session to education and health care.
“You can’t ignore the fact that our state has grown very fast, and we’ve had a huge challenge,” Williams told the Austin American-Statesman.
In a total of fourteen hearings, beginning on January 23 and ending on February 13, the Senate Finance Committee heard hours of testimony about the appropriations the bill would make to health and human services, judiciary matters, public safety and criminal justice, natural resources, business and economic development, regulatory matters, and general government.
However, the main focus for several of these hearings was education. Almost half were spent hearing testimony from several school districts, colleges, universities, and education interest groups.
After unanimous committee approval, SB 1 passed the Senate with a 29-2 vote. The two state senators who voted against it were Democratic State Senators Wendy Davis and Sylvia Garcia.
Sen. Garcia submitted a reason for her vote:
Regretfully, I am unable to support CSSB 1 at this time. It would be very difficult to go back to my district and say I voted for a budget that does not fully restore the cuts to education that were made last session after repeatedly promising to make education a priority and restore funding. I appreciate the progress that Chairman Williams and the Finance Committee have made and hope that I can join in supporting CSSB 1 when the Conference Committee Report is considered.
Sen. Davis posted two tweets arguing that the budget simply did not put enough into education for her to vote for the bill.
I opposed the budget every ISD in TX will receive dramatically less funding per student than it did in 2011: ow.ly/jm2X4 — Wendy Davis (@WendyDavisTexas) March 23, 2013
The numbers don’t lie: schools will receive $1000 less per kid under the Senate budget than in 2011 ow.ly/jm2UA — Wendy Davis (@WendyDavisTexas) March 23, 2013
The bill was sent to the House, assigned to the chamber's Appropriations Committee, and unanimously approved the next day. A report was created by the committee which summarized the fiscal impacts of SB 1.
According to the report, the bill would "appropriate $193,819.7 million from All Funds sources during the 2014-15 biennium," and is expected to increase GDP, personal income, the Consumer Price Index, and private and public sector employment