TEXAS'S 2014-2015 BUDGET RECEIVES FINAL PASSAGE
AUSTIN — Today, the conference committee report to S.B. 1, the state's General Appropriations Act received final passage by the Legislature. Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, who serves as Vice-Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance and who was also appointed to the Conference Committee on S.B. 1, was involved in budget negotiations that resulted in substantial investments in education, healthcare and infrastructure.
Senator Hinojosa issued the following statement:
"The budget process has been long and tedious, but under the leadership of Chairman Williams we have crafted a budget that is significant and purposeful. I thank Chairman Williams for his resolve and leadership. I also thank my fellow conferees, Senator Duncan, Senator Nelson, and Senator Whitmire as well as the entire Senate Finance Committee for their tireless work and dedication to this process.
We increased access and funding to services needed by our most vulnerable populations, the young, elderly, sick, and poor. We invested in infrastructure and human capital. The budget is within all constitutional spending and debt limits. This is a balanced budget.
I am particularly proud of the investments we made in public education including $3.4 billion added to formula funding to phase out Target Revenue hold harmless and significantly improve equity. We appropriated $724.6 million in all funds for Texas Grants to help students pay for college, an increase of $145 million from two years ago.
The budget includes more than $289 million in all funds for mental health, substance abuse, and behavioral health services and $71.3 million for the Texas Women's Health Program.
The budget also reaffirms our commitment to the battle against cancer by appropriating $600 million in General Obligation bond proceeds contingent upon passage of legislative reforms to improve the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) and the cancer registry."
As Vice-Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance and S.B. 1 conferee, Senator Hinojosa was involved in budget negotiations that resulted in an additional $3.9 billion investment in education and schools to restore most of the budget cuts made last session. Senator Hinojosa was able to secure funding for other priorities related to healthcare, water, transportation, jobs and workforce development, veterans, higher education, public safety, criminal justice, and environmental protection.
Below are highlights of budget priorities Senator Hinojosa helped secure additional funding for in conference committee:
- Jobs and Education for Texans (JET Program): $10 million
- Children's Advocacy Centers: $4 million
- Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA): $4 million
- Library Resource Sharing Services (TexShare and k-12 online educational content for public schools): $15.3 million
- Veterans Assistance Grants for "Housing 4 Texas Heroes" : $3.0 million
- Department of State Health Services- Mental Health Program for Veterans: $2.4 million
- Texas A&M Corpus Christi Engineering Program: $1.6 million
- University of Texas Pan-American Economic-Manufacturing Center: $1.0 million
- University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio- Regional Academic Health Center (RAHC): $10.0 million
- Nurse Loan Repayment Program: $1.1 million
- Texas Teach for America: $3 million
- Texas Academic Innovation & Mentoring (Texas AIM): $3 million
- Operation Lone Star: $1.0 million
- Surplus Agricultural Food Grant Program for Texas Food Banks:$2.9 million
- Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP): $26.3 million
- Local Parks Grants: $15.5 million
- Conservation Implementation Assistance Grants: $1.4 million
- Grants for Near-Term Alternative Water Supply Demonstration Projects: $3.0 million
- The Women's Institute for Technology Employment: $0.5 million
- Rio Grande River Compact Litigation: $5 million
- Implementation of the State Water Plan: $3.6 million
Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa proudly represents the counties of Nueces, Jim Wells, Brooks, and Hidalgo (part). Senator Hinojosa serves as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Intergovernmental Relations, Vice-Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, and is a member of the Senate Committees on Natural Resources, Criminal Justice, Agriculture, Rural Affairs and Homeland Security as well as the Legislative Budget Board (LBB).