Press Release
From the Office of State Senator Rodney Ellis

For Immediate Release
April 12, 2007
Contact: Jeremy Warren, (512) 463-0113

Ellis Questions Spending Priorities in Texas Budget

HB 1 spends a record $152 billion, yet major priorities remain dramatically under-funded

"During the worst of economic times, we asked Texans to sacrifice and we also sacrificed some people.  My problem today is that we are still sacrificing middle class and low-income Texans in the best of times."

AUSTIN - Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Ellis), a former Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, today said during debate on the 2008-2009 biennial budget that Texas is "robbing Peter to pay Paul" and neglecting the needs of middle class and low-income Texans.

Ellis specifically criticized funding of the TEXAS Grant program and the Children's Health Insurance Program.  Under HB 1, fewer students will receive a TEXAS Grant in FY 2009 than received a TEXAS Grant in FY 2003.  Despite record spending in this budget, in FY 2009 almost 200,000 fewer children will be served under CHIP than in FY 2003.

"During the worst of economic times, we asked Texans to sacrifice and we also sacrificed some people," said Ellis.  "My problem today is that we are still sacrificing middle class and low-income Texans in the best of times.  We're making tax cuts an entitlement while under-funding programs vital to our state's future.  We're spending more money, but we're not helping more Texans."

To open the doors to college to more young Texans, in 1999 Senator Ellis passed legislation creating the TEXAS  Grants program.  TEXAS Grants provide tuition and fees to students who have taken the Advanced or Recommended curriculum in high school.  By every account, the program has been a runaway success.

In 2000, the first year of the program, nearly 11,000 students received a TEXAS Grant to pay for college; by FY 2003 68,178 students received a TEXAS Grant -- every eligible student.  Unfortunately, frozen funding beginning in 2003 and the impact of tuition deregulation has devastated the program.  Even with the increase in overall funding for the program, under HB 1 only 63,556 TEXAS Grants will be awarded in FY 2009, only 46 percent of eligible students.

"Texas faces a looming crisis: while our diverse, high tech economy relies on a highly-skilled, highly educated workforce, we rank near the bottom in the nation at producing college graduates,  particularly African American and Hispanic graduates," said Ellis.  "As we become a more heavily minority-majority state, our future literally depends on increasing college access and success for African American and Hispanic Texans.  We are simply not doing the job and, unless the state significantly increases investment in TEXAS Grants, more and more students and families will be priced out of a college education, further jeopardizing our social and economic future."

Budget Snapshot
Year Passed Fiscal Years Amount Appropriated
2001 2002 -2003 $113.8 billion
2003 2004-2005 $117 billion
2005 2006-2007 $143.1 billion
2007 2008-2009 $152 billion*

* This does not include the FREW Amendment. The 2008-2009 budget represents a 6.45 percent increase over the 2006-2007 budget.  Overall, the budget has increased 29.64 percent since it was slashed in 2003.

TEXAS Grants
Year Amount Appropriated Total Students Served
2001 (FY 02-03) $300 million FY 02 = 53,318
FY 03 = 68,178
2003 (FY 04-05) $324 million FY 04 = 63,834
FY 05 = 56,109
2005 (FY 06-07) $334 million FY 06 = 55,902
FY 07 = 52,089
2007 (FY 08-09) $399 million FY 08 = 58,710
FY 09 = 63,556

Since 2003, TEXAS Grant funding has increased a moderate 23 percent.  Unfortunately, tuition deregulation has increased designated tuition by 80 percent; the net effect has been a severe cut to the TEXAS Grant program.  In 2003, a TEXAS Grant cost $2,950; today, a TEXAS Grant costs $4,750, a 61 percent increase.

CHIP
Year Amount Appropriated Children Served
2001 (FY 02-03) $1.029 Billion FY 02 = 497,705 actual
FY 03 = 506,968 actual
2003 (FY 04-05) $807.8 Million FY 04 = 409,865 avg.
FY 05 = 340,329 avg.
2005 (FY 06-07) $1.070 Billion FY 06 = 308,763 avg.
FY 07 = 323,000 avg.
2007 (FY 08-09) $1.8 Billion* FY 08 = 348,481 avg.
FY 09 = 358,248 avg.

*Not all of the 2008/09 amount appropriated for CHIP serves children.  Many of those counted in the HB 1 covers pregnant mothers (92,000 in FY 08, 101,977 in FY 09).  If you go by only children served, the budget provides insurance to 348,481 kids in FY 08 and 358,248 in FY 09 -- still significantly below the budget passed in 2001.  In addition, the state of Texas has returned $913.4 million in CHIP funds since 2000.  Texas returned $20 million on March 1, 2007.

CHIP in House & Senate Budgets
  FY 08 FY 09
Perinatal moms/babies 92,196 101,977
CHIP kids 348,481 358,248
Total, Kids plus Moms 440,677 460,225

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