I would like to start off by wishing everyone a Happy Valentine’s Day! This special day, filled with greeting cards, pink and red roses, and romantic dinners is also a reminder of God’s unfailing love and the grace we are given through Him. 1 John 4:16 says, “Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” Also – with sub-freezing and inclement weather in the forecast, if you must drive, everyone please be very careful roadways and drive to road conditions. For information on the condition of Texas roadways, feel free to use the website www.drivetexas.org which is maintained and continually updated by TxDOT.
With that, here’s an update from your State Capitol in Austin…
The Senate Finance Committee began meeting this week to discuss and hear testimony on the most fundamental piece of legislation for the Texas Legislature—the General Appropriations Act, otherwise known as the state budget. In a previous column, I touched on the Biennial Revenue Estimate given by the Comptroller of Public Accounts to kick off the state’s budgetary positon, including available revenue for general purpose spending through August 31, 2023. Using those estimates, Senate Finance is developing a base budget which is now being assessed against the additional needs of state agencies. Stakeholders from state agencies and institutions of higher education testified to the members of the committee to provide an in-depth overview of each request, and importantly, justify their funding requests.
With meetings of the House Committee on Appropriations set to begin next week, I am eager to begin working with my colleagues on the committee to keep the commitments made to our public education system in House Bill 3 last session. From there, we’ll take an in-depth look at funding levels for every state agency on our way to producing a balanced budget.
Here’s a few facts about the budget… First—it’s LONG. The 2020-2021 budget bill was 950 pages. You might also be interested to know that the House and Senate chambers take turns drafting the initial version of the budget each session. This session, the budget is starting in the Senate, and will make its way from the Finance Committee, to the Senate floor, and eventually over to the House. The same process will take place in the House of Representatives, with the budget debate in the House often making for the longest day of the legislative session – stretching into the early morning hours of the next day. Once deliberations on the House floor are done, five members from each chamber will be selected for a conference committee to make final decisions on the budget that will be sent to the Governor for his signature.
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.