Senator Van de Putte Votes for Budget, With Reservations
(Austin) — The Texas Senate today passed Senate Bill 1, the state budget for the 2014-15 biennium. Senator Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio, District 26) voted in favor of SB1, and issued the following statement:
"Senate Bill 1 is not a perfect budget, but I voted in favor of it because it at least moves our state in the right direction. However, the $1.4 billion added in this budget in no way replaced the devastating $5.4 billion in cuts to public education made in 2011.
"Higher education needs more funding, as well. While there is an overall increase in funds of about $800 million, there is no extra money in SB1 for the Hazlewood Act, which provides 150 credit hours' worth of tuition to veterans (or if unused, to a spouse or child). After the cuts of last session, university and college administrators have expressed concerns as to how they meet this obligation to our heroes as they leave military service and re-enter civilian life.
"As the session progresses, I will be looking for other opportunities to restore that funding."
"We also must find more funding for adults with disabilities. Too many Texans are suffering for years, only to remain on waiting lists.
"That said, I do want to applaud what is right about this budget: the mental health funding for four to five full time counselors for our Texas National Guard. Texas has the nation's largest Army National Guard force with about 20,000 soldiers, and since 2008, Texas has ranked second among states in Army National Guard suicides. However, currently, the Texas National Guard has just one full-time clinical psychologist to serve the 20,000 troops dispersed throughout the state. Funding an additional 4 - 5 counselors says more than thank you to these brave men and women for serving our country, it says 'welcome home.'
"I am thankful to Chairman Williams and the committee for considering the input of members not on the Finance Committee and making it part of this document."