AUSTIN – The Texas Senate today named Texas State Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, its chair of the Conference Committee on HB 1, the appropriations bill. She will serve alongside Senators Huffman, Kolkhorst, Taylor and Nichols.
"I look forward to working with this strong group of Senators as we iron out differences between the House and Senate budgets. Both chambers prioritized property tax relief and public education, and I am confident we can finalize a budget that helps homeowners who are struggling with rising property taxes and -- and make sure our schools have the resources needed to give teachers a raise and prepare our students for success."
The Conference Committee on HB 1 will reconcile differences between the House and Senate versions of the state's upcoming biennial budget. Once the two sides have come to an agreement, the final product will come back before each chamber for a final up-or-down vote.
Both budgets set aside an additional $9B to address property tax relief, teacher pay and education. The House budget appropriates $251B in All Funds, including $116.5B in General Revenue and $2.3B from the Economic Stabilization Fund. The Senate budget appropriates $247.7B in All Funds, including $116.8B in General Revenue and no dollars from the ESF -- and is within all constitutional spending limits and population times inflation. The Senate budget includes:
- $4B to give every teacher and librarian a $5,000 across-the-board pay raise;
- $2.7B for property tax relief and reducing the reliance on recapture;
- $2.3B in additional state aid to school districts;
- $2.4B to fund enrollment growth for public education, based on an estimated 65,000 additional students per year;
- $230M to maintain current health insurance premiums and benefits for our retired teachers;
- $157M to maintain the state's ratio of 1.1 graduate medical education slots for every medical school graduate in the state;
- an increase of $529.9M for higher education, including:
- $189.9M for enrollment growth;
- 4-percent increase to our general academic institutions; and
- 19-percent increase to our community college success points.
- an additional $59M to increase outpatient community mental health treatment and avoid waitlists;
- funding for 20 additional community inpatient psychiatric beds;
- a $35M increase for women's health - bringing funding for women's health to a new all-time high;
- an additional $5M to provide enhanced services to victims of family violence;
- an increase of $19.3M to reduce caseloads at Child Protective Services;
- $7.5M in new funding for rape crisis centers;
- $49.8M in additional funding for state crime labs with a prioritization of sexual assault kits;
- approval of all agency requests related to combatting human trafficking totaling $90.6M;
- $1.2M to leverage a $23.3M federal grant to improve election security;
- $193M to address wait times at our driver license offices;
- $3.7M to establish nine new child protection courts;
- an additional $4.3M for judicial training, and a directive to ensure that judges are educated about mental health resources their communities;
- more than $1B across state agencies to address cybersecurity, replace legacy systems and upgrade information technology;
- $31B to address the state's transportation needs, including the full transfer to the State Highway Fund under Proposition 7;
- 100-percent appropriation of the sporting goods sales tax to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Historical Commission;
- $28.1M to improve technology at the Railroad Commission and hire 22 additional oil and gas and pipeline safety inspectors;
- $1.2B, an increase of $73.3M in All Funds, for food and nutrition programs at the Texas Department of Agriculture, including: the Surplus Food Program, home-delivered meals for at-risk adults and children, School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, and After School Care Program;
- $2.6M to create a new Skimmer Fraud Unit at the Texas Department of Agriculture for the implementation of a detection, investigation, and enforcement program that will crack down on fuel pump credit card skimmers; and
- $5.1M at the Texas Board of Pharmacy to fully implement the Prescription Monitoring Program workflow integration system.
Senator Jane Nelson represents District 12, including portions of Tarrant and Denton Counties. She is Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and the highest-ranking Republican in the Texas Senate.