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Senate Votes for Balanced Budget That Continues Commitment to Education, Health & Human Services
AUSTIN -- The Texas Senate has approved a $117.7 billion state budget, which covers a $9.9 billion shortfall without rasing taxes, fully funds the Foundation School Program and avoids deep cuts into health & human services.
"This is a conservative budget that stays within our means but marshalls the resources necessary to provide quality public education and to care for our frail, elderly and poor children who are dependent on the government for their general health & well being," said Senator Jane Nelson, R-Lewisville, who chaired the Senate Workgroup on Health & Human Services Funding.
The House passed its budget last week, and each chamber is expected to name conferees this week to begin working out differences between the House and Senate versions of the $57.7 billion two-year budget. The highlights include:
- Fully funds the Foundation School Program at $1.5 billion, consistent with projected enrollment growth. (This is the state's portion of funding for public education).
- Only cuts 1.3 percent from higher education, sparing our institutions of higher learning from the 12.5 percent cuts most other agencies are being asked to make.
- Ensures that every adult or child currently covered under Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, continues to receive coverage and allows for additional caseload growth of an estimated 150,000 new clients, adding $2.2 billion overall to health & human services above the current budget.
- Ensures that all of our state schools remain open and equalizes funding for community mental health services under separate riders authored by Senator Nelson.
- Texas Department of Transportation receives $10.7 billion, an increase of about 3 percent.
"We will continue to scrub the budget for duplications, inefficiencies and government waste to free up every available dollar for essential services, being ever mindful that a tax increase would be devastating to the very people who receive state services and unfair to those hard working Texans who are struggling to make ends meet in this economy," Senator Nelson said.