SB 1, APPROPRIATIONS BILL, HEADS TO CONFERENCE COMMITTEE

April 18, 2017

“This is a strong team of conferees, and I am confident we will reach an agreement with the House to responsibly balance this budget and meet the essential needs of our state,” Senator Nelson said. “Despite our challenges, the Senate passed a smart budget that stays true to the principles of fiscal discipline that have served Texas well.”

The conference committee for SB 1 will include five state senators and five state representatives appointed from their respective chambers to work out the differences between the House and Senate versions of the FY 18-19 state budget. The other four Senate conferees are Senators Hinojosa, Huffman, Kolkhorst and Schwertner. The House conferees are forthcoming.

The Senate unanimously approved SB 1, authored by Senator Nelson to establish the state’s budget priorities for the next two years. The Senate budget appropriates $217.7 billion in all funds. Under the Senate budget, education funding increases by roughly $4.6 billion when you consider both state and local sources.

Both the Senate and House budgets rely on the same amount of local school property tax collections. Both budgets fully fund the Foundation School Program; prioritize resources to protect children and abused children; and expand funding for mental health.

The Senate budget assumes that Proposition 7 transfers to the highway fund will occur in September of each year, meaning the 2019 transfer of $2.5 billion would count against the next budget cycle. Senator Nelson has requested an expedited Attorney General opinion to ensure this transfer complies with the Texas Constitution.

The House budget spends $218.1 billion, including a $2.5 billion draw from the Economic Stabilization Fund and a $1.9 billion deferral in education costs to the next biennium. The House budget also assumes $1 billion in unspecified health care cost reductions and $500 million in savings due to undefined contracting improvements.