SENATE APPROVES FINAL BUDGET PROPOSAL
(AUSTIN) — Senators voted unanimously in favor of the final version of the budget Thursday, ending that chamber's work on appropriations for the 2010-2011 biennium. The final proposal would allocate about the same amount as the version approved by the Senate earlier in the month. It would spend about $81 billion in state funds, and $183 billion in all funds, including $12.1 billion from the federal stimulus act. "Members, this budget is balanced," said Finance Committee Chair Steve Ogden, who lead Senate negotiations with the House to craft a final budget proposal.
Health and human services spending for the next biennium would increase 10 percent. This includes funding to improve the Texas' state schools, under fire from the Department of Justice and identified as an emergency issue by the governor at the beginning of the session. "We've made a historical commitment to assisting our citizens with intellectual disabilities," said Ogden. "It is significant that we are going, in this budget, to provide the funding necessary to reform our state schools and create many new alternatives, thousands of alternatives, for these most deserving citizens to receive the help and the treatment they need outside of an institutional setting."
Other winners in this session's budget include higher education, with a 7 percent increase in spending, cancer research, which would get $450 million in new funds, and correctional officers, who would get a 7 percent pay raise over the next two years. The approved budget also allocates $17 billion for the Texas Department of Transportation, with $6 billion of that going for new road construction.
Once House members approve the final budget proposal, it will go to the governor's desk.
ALSO TODAY IN THE SENATE...
|Senator Jane Nelson (center) and Lt. Governor David Dewhurst (right) pose with Olive Stephens, the mayor of Sandy Shores. Mrs. Stephens, 92, was just elected to her 20th term as mayor of the north Texas city.|