Senate Budget Proposal Would Cut $28.8 Billion

The Senate's version of a starting state budget is, at $158.7 billion, $2.3 billion bigger than the House's, but still would chop overall state spending by $28.8 billion, or 15.4 percent, from current levels.

The upper chamber's initial budget proposal includes a total of $69.8 billion for public and higher education; the House version provides $67.7 billion for education. Their overall spending on health and human services is about the same (though some details differ). If you're looking only at state money — general revenue funding — the Senate would spend $79.7 billion, compared to the $79.3 billion in the House plan presented last week.

The big difference in state spending, as with the overall budget, is in education. The Senate would leave public schools $9.3 billion short of what they're due under current education funding formulas, about $500 million better off than the schools would do under the House plan. In either case, the Legislature would have to change its school funding formulas, and until they do that, there's no way to know which school districts lose how much money. Technology allotment and pre-kindergarten early start grants aren't funded. In addition, the Senate would spend about $400 million more on various education programs than the House.

Like the House, the Senate would cut more than $254 million from special item funding for state colleges and universities and $431 million from student financial aid programs (if the money becomes available, they'd add back $50 million of that financial aid, for a total cut of $381 million). Four community colleges that would lose their funding in the House bill remain in place in the Senate plan.

They do similar things in health and human services, cutting provider reimbursement rates by another 10 percent on top of cuts already made and without taking into account federal stimulus funds used in the current budget that won't be available for the next budget. But the Senate made different assumptions about federal matching funds for those programs; they think the state will get $1 billion more in so-called FMAP funds than the House assumed.

They'd cut the state's contributions to state employee and teacher pension programs, and like the House, they don't tap into the state's $9.4 billion Rainy Day fund. But the Senate included $140 million more for higher education health insurance premiums, and about $300 million more for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board than the House did.

The Senate would cut 8,167 state employees from the budget, where the House cut 9,610. Finally, the House left about $169 million in the Public Utility Commission's System Benefit Fund; the Senate used most of that money elsewhere, and would leave a balance of $4.4 million in the fund.

The budget is in three documents, available on the Legislative Budget Board's website: the budget bill itself, the LBB's Summary of Legislative Budget Estimates, and the LBB's full Legislative Budget Estimates.

 

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