Editorial

26 April 2021

Capitol Update: Finalizing the Biennial Budget

Even though Texas has felt a little cooler in recent days, things are heating up in your State Capitol—so let’s dive right in. The House Committee on Transportation met for a public hearing on Tuesday for eight hours to listen to and discuss public and stakeholder testimony. This committee covers a wide range of issues, from vehicle registration fees which fund local transportation projects, to improving peace officer’s ability to enforce commercial motor vehicle safety standards. The most prominent challenge this session is finding available funds for transportation projects across the state after last year’s decline of gas tax revenue due to the pandemic. With the diverse committee membership that ranges from urban areas to the coast to the plains, I am honored to represent the interests of East Texas.

With that, here’s an update on the state budget …

Capitol Update

As you all know, the only constitutional mandate given to the Texas Legislature every two years is to pass a balanced state budget. Recently, after more than 240 amendments and 12 hours of debate, the Texas House unanimously voted to approve this most critical piece of legislation. I’m pleased to report that Senate Bill 1 maintained the state’s conservative budgeting model, as it’s $246.8 billion in state and federal appropriations represented a decrease of nearly 7% from the previous biennium. The state’s share of that amount, when adjusted for population growth and inflation, decreased by 4.5% and is well below the constitutional spending limit.

In addition to maintaining these prudent fiscal practices, the Texas House’s version of the two-year state budget also spends $1 billion to compress local property taxes in recognition of rising taxes across the state, maintains robust funding for border security, and spends over $1 billion to support community mental health and crisis service programs for children and adults. Finally, I’m proud to report that the Texas House is once again leading the effort to prioritize public education by fully funding enrollment growth and last session’s obligations from the historic passage of House Bill 3, as well as providing $5 billion in state funds to cover the cost of an increased state contribution to the Teacher Retirement System of Texas.

This version of the budget is truly a testament to the countless hours hard work that members of the House Appropriations Committee have put in through the first 100 days of the 87th Legislative Session. Now that the bill has received initial approval in both the House and Senate, it will be referred to a conference committee where five members from each chamber will sift through the differences and present a final product to each body for approval.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office if we can help you in any way. My district office may be reached at (936) 634-2762. Additionally, I welcome you to follow along on my Official Facebook Page, where I will be posting regular updates on what’s happening in your State Capitol and sharing information that could be useful to you and your family: https://www.facebook.com/RepTrentAshby/.

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