Senate Passes Budget That Funds Priorities Without Raising Taxes

May 4, 2011

Texas State Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, today joined with a majority of Senators to adopt a two-year $176.5 billion budget to fund education and other priorities without raising taxes, while cutting $11 billion in spending.

"Texans expect us to adequately fund education, protect our most vulnerable citizens and meet our basic needs, and this budget lives up to those expectations," Senator Nelson said.  "They also expect us to live within our means, which is why we must continue to scrutinize the various options still under consideration for funding this budget."

Senator Nelson voted against a proposal to enhance state revenue by speeding up the timeline for businesses to pay the franchise tax. She opposed bills to raise driver license fees and court fees.

In addition, she also opposed liquidating tobacco settlement funds from the permanent fund for health related institutions.

As Chairman of the Finance Subcommittee on Medicaid Reform, Senator Nelson led efforts to identify $3 billion in savings and efficiencies in health and human services programs. Savings will come from expanded use of managed care, objective client assessments for acute nursing services, technology to prevent fraud in delivering community services and other safeguards to ensure that individuals receive the appropriate level of services.

"These reforms are critical to controlling Medicaid costs that are consuming precious resources that could otherwise be spent on education, transportation, public safety and other priorities," Senator Nelson said.

Senator Nelson also offered three amendments to achieve more than $1 billion in savings: initiating a two-year hiring freeze at state agencies; temporarily eliminating longevity pay for state employees; and a two-year 10 percent salary reduction for state employees who earn over $200,000. The Senate rejected those amendments. "Private companies have taken similar measures during these difficult economic times. The savings could help keep teachers in our classrooms," said Senator Nelson.

Highlights of the Senate budget for fiscal years 2012-2013 include:

  • balances budget with 6 percent in spending reductions and no tax increase;
  • restores $11 billion in House budget cuts to education, nursing homes, public safety and health care;
  • maintains prison capacity to keep criminals off the streets;
  • increases Texas' commitment to border security;
  • provides $3 billion in voter-approved bonds for highway construction; and
  • preserves the Rainy Day Fund.