from the office of State Senator Judith Zaffirini

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Leigh Flores
512/463-0121
May 25, 2001

TEXAS SENATE APPROVES 2002-03 BUDGET

Texas invests in health and human services, state employee pay, teachers health insurance, college aid

The approval of the $113.8 billion budget that meets Texas' basic needs while increasing investment in key priorities such as health and human services, state employee pay, teachers health insurance and college aid, without raising taxes was announced today (Friday) by Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo.

The Conference Committee Report to CSSB 1, the 2002-03 budget for the state of Texas was approved by the Texas Senate Thursday (May, 24, 2001). The biennial budget increased funding $11.8 billion, an 11.6 percent increase over the FY 2000-01. The majority of the new funding is dedicated to health and human services and education. Overall, the 2002-03 appropriations bill includes $5.1 billion more for health and human services programs, $200 million more for the TEXAS Grant Program -- which will help nearly 100,000 Texas students go to college over the next two years -- and $480.1 million for state employee pay raises.

"The conferees worked hard to prioritize the needs of Texans, particularly in areas of health and human services, education and employee pay raises. We're delighted that our colleagues in the Senate and House reached consensus regarding the need to improve the lives of Texas, particularly future generations," said Sen. Zaffirini, who chaired the Senate workgroup that crafted the health and human services portion of the budget.

For public education, CSSB 1 earmarks $2.52 billion for teachers health insurance, discretionary funding for school districts, new and existing facilities and other vital education needs. A House-Senate Conference Committee will use these funds to develop a health insurance program for Texas school teachers, address school financing equity and facilities issues, health insurance for retired teachers and other necessary educational increases.

Other key initiatives include:

Committee Substitute to Senate Bill 1 includes funding for proposed Medicaid reforms to streamline and simplify the enrollment process. A special joint House-Senate task force agreed to a plan that will provide coverage to the estimated 600,000 eligible children eligible, but not currently served by Medicaid.

The $11.8 billion increased funding is needed to cover state government cost increases due to Texas' rapidly growing population and rising health care costs, and to fund key priorities established by the committee. The majority of this growth comes from other funds, such as federal funds, rather than state coffers.

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