Tribpedia: Budget

The Texas Constitution requires the Legislature to balance its budget every year without borrowing against future receipts. That bars the government from deficit spending and forces lawmakers, who meet for 20 weeks every two years, to constantly balance demands for programs and services against voters' desire to limit taxes, fees and other costs of government.

The Legislative Budget Board — a ...

A Head Start on the Big Stuff

Bill sponsor State Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen, is surrounded by members at the front mike while debate continues on HB 5 on March 26, 2013.
Bill sponsor State Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen, is surrounded by members at the front mike while debate continues on HB 5 on March 26, 2013.
Texas Weekly

With eight weeks to go in the legislative session, lawmakers got a running start at their big issues: water, education and the budget.

Cable and Satellite Providers Square Off Over Tax Break

Cable TV providers are asking lawmakers to let them out of $200 million in sales taxes to offset local franchise fees their satellite competitors don't have to pay. Some lawmakers are worried about the state programs that would go unfunded as a result. A proposal under discussion would free customers from taxes on the first $75 they pay for cable each month.

House Appropriations Committee chairman Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, looks at the voting board as the House passes HB1 the state budget, 97-53, late in the evening on May 28, 2011.
House Appropriations Committee chairman Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, looks at the voting board as the House passes HB1 the state budget, 97-53, late in the evening on May 28, 2011.

House Committee Backs Budget With More School Funding

The $193.8 billion budget approved by the House Appropriations Committee includes an extra $2.5 billion for public education. The bill is smaller than the Senate budget by about $1.7 billion.

Senators Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-Edinburg, l, Glenn Hegar, R-Katy,  Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound and Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio listen to SB 1 budget debate wrap-up on March 20, 2013.
Senators Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-Edinburg, l, Glenn Hegar, R-Katy, Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound and Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio listen to SB 1 budget debate wrap-up on March 20, 2013.

Senate Approves $195.5 Billion Budget, 29-2

The Texas Senate approved a $195.5 billion budget Wednesday that even supporters called an intermediate step toward a final spending plan for the next two years. Two Democrats voted against the budget, which restores some but not all of the cuts made to public education spending two years ago.

Budget Votes to Set Stage for Future Negotiations

The $195.5 billion budget that senators will vote on Wednesday includes $1.4 billion extra for education, pay raises for most state employees and additional funding for various regulatory agencies. The House Appropriations Committee is likely to vote on its version of the two-year budget on Thursday.

Inside the State Budget, a Shell Game

The state balances its budget by counting nearly $5 billion in unspent funds that were raised for specific programs. Some lawmakers in both parties, though, are calling for more transparency in the budget. To change their ways, lawmakers would have to go back to what they were trying to avoid: choices between taxes and cuts.

House Speaker Joe Straus (l) shakes the hand of State Rep. Jim Pitts (r), R-Waxahachie, after the House passed HB1 the state budget, 97-53 late on May 28, 2011.
House Speaker Joe Straus (l) shakes the hand of State Rep. Jim Pitts (r), R-Waxahachie, after the House passed HB1 the state budget, 97-53 late on May 28, 2011.

House Sends Medicaid IOU Bill to Perry

House members unanimously approved a bill largely devoted to addressing a shortfall in Medicaid. Health providers for poor children and the disabled in Texas won't get paid starting Thursday unless Gov. Rick Perry signs the bill soon.

Senators (l to r) Royce West, D-Dallas, Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler and Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock, listen to testimony from CPRIT officials in Senate Finance on Feb. 5, 2013.
Senators (l to r) Royce West, D-Dallas, Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler and Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock, listen to testimony from CPRIT officials in Senate Finance on Feb. 5, 2013.

Republican Senator Proposes Tax Hike for Transportation

State Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, wants Texas voters to approve a constitutional amendment to temporarily increase the state sales tax to pay off the Texas Department of Transportation's debt.

Both Texas and Virginia have amassed billions of dollars in debt over the last decade in order to fund transportation. In February 2013, Virginia lawmakers overhauled how the state funds transportation by cutting gas taxes and raising sales taxes.
Both Texas and Virginia have amassed billions of dollars in debt over the last decade in order to fund transportation. In February 2013, Virginia lawmakers overhauled how the state funds transportation by cutting gas taxes and raising sales taxes.

In Hunt for Roads Funds, Texas Won't Model Virginia

Texas lawmakers hope to follow in Virginia's footsteps this session and revamp the way they fund transportation. But Texas is not likely to adopt Virginia's approach, which includes cutting gas taxes and raising sales taxes. Lawmakers are more likely to raise registration fees and move around money the state is already collecting.

House  Appropriations Chair, Rep. Jim Pitts R-Waxahachie with a big smile as he votes on House supplemental bill HB 10  on February 21st, 2013
House Appropriations Chair, Rep. Jim Pitts R-Waxahachie with a big smile as he votes on House supplemental bill HB 10 on February 21st, 2013

House Passes Bill to Address $4.5 Billion Medicaid IOU

With little debate on Thursday, House lawmakers passed House Bill 10, an emergency supplemental appropriations bill that needs to get to Gov. Rick Perry's desk by next month to avoid bills owed to medical workers going unpaid.

Recalled products, natural threats, choking hazards, and items that could cause emergencies when large amounts are ingested by children, are displayed at the South Texas Poison Center in San Antonio. Miguel Fernández, managing director of the center, is reflected in the display case glass.
Recalled products, natural threats, choking hazards, and items that could cause emergencies when large amounts are ingested by children, are displayed at the South Texas Poison Center in San Antonio. Miguel Fernández, managing director of the center, is reflected in the display case glass.

Emergency Services Agency Has Cash It Can't Spend

The agency that oversees the state’s 911 system and poison control centers has both too much money and not nearly enough. The state is sitting on more than $200 million collected from phone bill-paying Texans and earmarked specially for the agency — money that can’t be spent because it is being used in an accounting trick to balance the budget.

 

House members huddle at dais on February 14th, 2013
House members huddle at dais on February 14th, 2013

First Impressions

Texas Weekly

The Texas House is about to hold its first debate, and on a spending bill, to boot. It will pass, because it must. But watch how they work.

Rep. Jim Pitts R-Waxahachie, chair of the House Committee on Appropriations, listens to Rep. Trey Martinez-Fischer D-San Antonio on February 11th, 2013
Rep. Jim Pitts R-Waxahachie, chair of the House Committee on Appropriations, listens to Rep. Trey Martinez-Fischer D-San Antonio on February 11th, 2013

House Might Restore Some Education Budget Cuts

Members of the Texas House are in talks to add some money to public education in the current two-year budget. The Texas Legislature cut $5.4 billion from education last session. Budget writers say nearly $1 billion could be added to the current budget without triggering a constitutional limit on spending.

Good Times or Bad, the Texas Budget is Tight

When money was tight two years ago, the state's top budget writers employed cutbacks and accounting tricks to balance the budget. Money is flowing again, but the budget folks are still finding it easy to say no, saying they're blocked by lawmakers' promises not to spend faster than inflation and to use the state's Rainy Day Fund sparingly.