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 legislative agency — has the best repository of information about the details of the budget. And they publish Fiscal Size-Up — a detailed but understandable breakdown of the state budget and fiscal situation.

The appropriations bill details the state's spending plans. The details on revenue come from the Comptroller of Public Accounts, who tells lawmakers through a Biennial Revenue Estimate how much money will be available for spending, and who ends the adoption of a budget by certifying that its spending fits within the available revenue.

Budget writers often think of the appropriations bill in two parts: General Revenue, or GR, which refers to state funds that aren't dedicated by law for particular spending; and federal funds, which is money from the federal government, usually drawn into the budget in proportion to what the state is spending on a particular program.

The 2010-2011 budget for the state government totals $182.3 billion. Public and higher education, a $75.4 billion, and health and human services, at $59.6 billion, make up nearly three-fourths of state spending. Criminal justice and public safety spending totals $10.6 billion; transportation accounts for another $17.1 billion.

Those are "all funds" numbers, meaning they include GR and federal money. GR accounts for $87.1 billion in the 2010-11 budget, including $51.5 billion for public and higher education, and $25.3 billion for health and human services. Together, those two areas account for 88.3 percent of GR spending.

The state's biggest single source of income is the sales tax, projected to bring in $41.9 billion in this two-year budget cycle. Other taxes — on everything from motor fuel to corporations — bring expected GR to $74.8 billion over the next two years. Regular legislative sessions start eight months before the end of a two-year budget, and lawmakers often start with supplemental appropriations bills to add spending where they were short and, less often, to make cuts in places where spending was slower than expected.

It can be confusing to listen to a lawmaker talking about cutting spending (meaning GR spending) while the overall budget is increasing because of higher federal spending. The current budget is an example; largely because they had federal stimulus money available, lawmakers were able to lower GR spending while increasing the overall size of the budget. The parsing is in many ways political: State lawmakers are politically liable for what they do with state taxes and spending, but aren't as directly responsible for what happens on the federally funded part of the state budget.

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Ahead of the start of the 85th Legislature, state Comptroller Glenn Hegar offers lawmakers the revenue estimate for the biennial budget.
The Texas Legislative Budget Board, including (l-r) Speaker Joe Straus, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and state Sen. Jane Nelson, met on Thursday, December 1, 2016 to set the state's spending limit for the next session and get an update on the Texas economy from the state comptroller.
Texas Department of Criminal Justice Central Prison Unit in Sugar Land, TX. Amid budget cuts, Texas is closing a prison unit for the first time. The historic Central Unit will close at the end of August. Karen Godfrey and her two sons Timothy Godfrey, and Zachary Munn draw and play together with Ishele Graves and her daughter Mikaela Massey at Bluebonnet Trails Community Services in Round Rock, TX. Several Democrats line up at back mic to speak with Rep. Rob Eissler R-The Woodlands while discussing amendments to SB8 on June 16th, 2011 State Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, dons his jacket while briskly walking toward the back microphone to challenge amendment #11 during debate on SB-2 a supplemental budget bill on June 9, 2011. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, moves away from the podium after moving to briefly postpone discussion on SB1 the budget bill on June 9, 2011. Crowd rallies inside Texas Capitol to opposing school budget cuts on June 6th, 2011 Young girl holds up sign during school budget rally at Texas Capitol June 6th, 2011 Young Hispanic student from Houston holds with sign indicating budget cut amount to school district during press conference on June 6th, 2011 Texas American Federation of Teacher's President Linda Bridges, speaks during press conference on June 6th, 2011 State Rep. Sylvester Turner (c) raises questions on SB1811 as colleagues State Rep. Armando Walle (l), D-Houston, State Rep. Ron Reynolds, D-Missouri City, and State Rep. Mark Strama (r), D-Austin, listen in the evening of May 29, 2011. Democratic Senators gather around State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, as they plot strategy on SB1811 during Sunday's session May 29, 2011.  Left to right are Sen. Mario Gallegos, D-Houston, Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, Sen. Eddie Lucio, D-Brownsville, Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, and Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Ft. Worth. State Sen. Van Taylor, R-Plano, is shown on May 28, 2011, when he was a state representative. The House voting board reflects the members' 97-53 vote to pass HB1 the state budget late Saturday 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 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. HB1 is displayed on the House message board during debate on the state budget in the evening of May 28, 2011. State Sen. Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, leaves the Senate floor after HB1 the state budget passed on a 20-11 vote on May 28, 2011. State Sen. Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, discusses HB1 the state budget with State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, on the Senate floor in the evening May 28, 2011. State Rep. Donna Howard (l), D-Austin and State Rep. Jim Pitts (r), R-Waxahachie, go over budget figures in the House on Saturday afternoon May 28, 2011. State Sen. Steve Ogden sits pensive in the chair waiting as House and Senate negotiators work in the back room on education finance issues in the early evening of May 27, 2011. Gov. Rick Perry speaks to the press after leaving a school finance meeting between leaders in the House and Senate May 27, 2011. State Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, talks in his office about a letter sent to Comptroller Susan Combs regarding the state budget on May 26, 2011. State Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, speaks to the press about a letter he sent to Comptroller Susan Combs about budget matters on May 26, 2011. State Rep. Sylvester Turner, May 26, 2011. State Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, talks to the press following his no vote on HB1 as the Appropriations Conference Commitee passed out the budget on May 26, 2011. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Pitts (l), R-Waxahachie, and Senate Finance Chaigman Steve Ogden (r), R-Bryan, talk to the press after the conference committee vote on HB1 on May 26, 2011. Senate Finance Chairman Steve Ogden (l), R-Bryan, and State Rep. Jim Pitts (R-Waxahachie), share a laugh after the Appropriations Conference Committee passed out HB1 on a 9-1 vote on May 26, 2011. With rain pouring down outside the Senate chamber, State Sen. Jeff Wentworth (r), R-San Antonio, speaks with State Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, on May 20, 2011. State Sen. Steve Ogden (l), R-Bryan, talks with Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (r) during debate on SB1581 a fiscal matters bill in the Texas Senate chamber on May 20, 2011. State Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, talks to the press about the Rainy Day Fund during debate on SB1811 on May 20, 2011. State Rep. Dwayne Bohac (r), R-Houston, confers with House Appropriations Committee Chairman State Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, during debate on SB1811 on May 20, 2011. State Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, holds his bill book while listening to evening debate on SB1811 in the Texas House on May 20, 2011. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst reaches to shake the hand of a member following his visit to the House chamber Thursday afternoon to discuss budget matters on May 19, 2011. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst leaving the House chamber following budget negotiations on May 19, 2011. After emerging from a closed-door meeting with House members, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst tells the press, "We're very very close" in budget negotiations on May 19, 2011. State Rep. Ralph Sheffield (r), R-Temple, visits with Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the House chamber following Dewhurst's visit with House Speaker Joe Straus on May 19, 2011. Gov. Rick Perry makes a playful salute to the son of State Rep. Craig Eiland, D-Galveston, as he walked through the House chamber on his way to a meeting with House Speaker Joe Straus at noon on May 19, 2011. Texas Gov. Rick Perry (c) visits with House members to discuss the state budget issues at the back railing on May 19, 2011. State Rep. Mike Villarreal (c), D-San Antonio, a member of the Appropriations Committee, tells the House chamber that 5,000 Texas teachers have been laid off while the Legislature disagrees over the budget on May 18, 2011. State Rep. Myra Crownover, R-Lake Dallas, appears angry as she talks with a colleague during postponment of critical budget-related bills on May 18, 2011. State Sen. Steve Ogden (r) chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, visits in the House chamber with State Rep. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown, while he waits to visit with State Rep. Jim Pitts on May 18, 2011. House Appropriations Committee chairman State Rep. Jim Pitts (r), R-Waxahachie, gives the OK sign to State Rep. Mike Villarreal (l), D-San Antonio, after Pitts postponed the fiscal matters bills crucial to the state budget on May 18, 2011. Dr. Eva Garza-Nyer, a college counselor assisting Max Garcia and Znobea Williams on financial aids acceptance. State Sen. Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, speaks to the press on May 16, 2011. State Sen. Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, speaks to the press after the Senate session on May 16, 2011. Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen, talks to an aide on the Senate floor on May 9, 2011.  Hinojosa is under considereation for a spot on the budget conference committee. State Rep. John Zerwas, R-Simonton, talks with a colleague after he was named an HB1 budget conferee on May 6, 2011. State Rep. Myra Crownover, R-Lake Dallas, looks at the voting board after she was named an HB1 House conferee on May 6, 2011. State Rep. Bill Zedler (l), R-Arlington, talks with State Rep. Jim Pitts (r), R-Waxahachie, during motions to instruct HB1 conferees debate on May 6, 2011. House Appropriations Committee chairman, State Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie (r), listens to debate on HB1 conferee's instructions on May 6, 2011. State Rep. Will Hartnett (r), R-Dallas, listens to a question from the back mike as State Rep. Rene' Oliveira (l), D-Brownsville, waits on May 6, 2011. State Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington, votes 'aye' to table certain instructions to conferees on HB1 budget bill on May 6, 2011. State Sen. Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, during debate on the state budget on May 4, 2011. Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, speaks against the motion to adopt the Senate version of the state budget on May 4, 2011. Sen. Robert "Bob" Duell, R-Greenville, ponders Democratic speeches against the state budget on May 4, 2011. Sen. Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, ponders Democratic speeches before the vote on the Senate budget bill May 4, 2011. Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, speaks on the Senate floor against the state budget on third reading on May 4, 2011. Lt. Governor David Dewhurst listens to members after the Texas Senate voted, 19-12, to pass the budget on May 4, 2011. Sen. Steve Ogden (r), R-Bryan, talks with Sen. Robert Duell, R-Greenville, after the Senate votes, 19-12 to pass the budget on May 4, 2011. State Sen. Juan Hinojosa (l), D-McAllen, goes over papers with Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, as the Senate waited to bring up SB1 on May 4, 2011. Sen. Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, chairman of Senate Finance Committee, looks for support on the Senate floor during the introduction of the Luna Scholars in the background on May 4, 2011. Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, makes a point during floor debate of budget bill CSHB1 on May 3, 2011. Sen. Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, listens to debate after bringing budget bill CSHB1 to the floor on May 3, 2011. Sen. Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, listens to debate after bringing budget bill CSHB1 to the floor on May 3, 2011. Sen. Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, listens to debate after bringing budget bill CSHB1 to the floor on May 3, 2011. Sen. Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, listens to comments during floor debate on the state budget on May 3, 2011. Senate Finance Committee chairman Sen. Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, looks for votes on CSSB1582  a spending bill on April 28, 2011. Sen. Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, attempts to get votes to suspend the rules on CSSB1580 a Senate spending bill on April 28, 2011. Texas For Conservative Budget Commercial State Sen. Joan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen, registers votes on HB1 the 2012-2013 budget which passed 11-4 in Senate Finance on April 21, 2011. A lemon is left on the desk by a protester as the Senate Finance Committee voted to use the rainy day fund to balance the state budget on April 21, 2011. Pro-union workers hold signs at the "Save our State" rally at the Texas Capitol on April 6, 2011. Protesters from Corpus Christi at the "Save our State" rally at the Capitol on April 6, 2011 Hundreds of pro-union workers rally at a "Save our State" rally at the Texas Capitol on April 6, 2011. A protester holds an anti-Perry sign at the "Save our State" rally on April 6, 2011 Pro-union protesters hold signs decrying budget cuts at the Texas Capitol on April 6, 2011. A mannequin is used as a prop at the "Save our State" pro-union rally at the Texas Capitol April 6, 2011 Union members and state employees rally to "Save our State" on April 6, 02011 Catholic students from around Texas attend a Texas Catholic Conference rally on the south steps of the Capitol on April 6, 2011. Nine Catholic Bishops, members of the Texas Catholic Conference, gather at the State Capitol on their legislative advocacy day April 6, 2011. State Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center, debates an amendment to HB1 on April 1, 2011. State Rep. Debbie Riddle, R-Houston, walks with a wrap to her desk as debate on HB1 state budget approached midnight on April 1, 2011. State Rep. Vicki Truitt, R-Southlake, gets comfortable at her desk as the clock approaches midnight during debate on HB1 on April 1, 2011. Rep. Warren Chisum R-Pampa pushes another amendment to cut funding for family planning clinics during debate on HB1 April 1st, 2011 House Parliamentarian, Chris Griesel hands paperwork to Rep. Ryan Guillen D-Rio Grande City during the budget debate on house floor April 1st, 2011 Rep. Rodney Anderson reviews budget information on House floor April 1st, 2011 Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, speaks with Rep. John Otto, R-Dayton, on the House floor during the budget debate. State Rep. Pete Gallego (c), D-Alpine, waits to speak on an amendment to HB1 the state budget on April 1, 2011 House Appropriations Committee chairman State Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie (r), ponders HB1 the state budget as State Rep. Dwayne Bohac (l) listens on April 1, 2011. State Rep. Yvonne Davis, D-Dalllas, calls a point of order on amendment #3 of HB1 the budget bill on April 1, 2011 A copy of HB1 and its amendments sits on the desk of State Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin, on April 1, 2011 State Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, questions Republican HB1 budget writers on April 1, 2011. State Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, chairman of House Appropriations, lays out HB1 the state budget on April 1, 2011. Appropriations Committee chairman State Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, lays out HB1 state budget bill on April 1, 2011. Texas children in wheelchairs protest proposed Medicaid budget cuts as the House debates the budget on April 1, 2011. State Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio,  debates on proposed amendment #28 to HB4 on March 31, 2011. Republican State Reps. (l to r) Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen; James White, R-Woodville, Bryan Hughes, R-Marshall,; and Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, work on HB4 budget amendments on March 31, 2011. State Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock (l), R-Killeen, and State Rep. John Otto (r), R-Dayton, wait to speak on HB4 supplemental house appropriations bill on March 31, 2011. Rep. Jim Pitts (r), R-Waxahachie, laughs with Rep Dwayne Bohac (l), R-Houston, during debate on HB4 on March 31, 2011. Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, listens to HB4 debate on amendments on March 31, 2011. Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, votes 'aye' to table an amendment regarding HB4 the supplemental appropriations bill on March 31, 2011 Superintendent of Donna ISD, Roberto Loredo rallies at the Texas State Capitol against budget cuts to education. March 30th, 2011 Leaders from Texas Hospital Association and other hospital groups urge members of the Texas House to protect funding for local hospitals, doctors and nurses. March 29th, 2011 Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, speaks to the press with her Republican Senate colleagues supporting education on March 23, 2011. Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, speaks to the press on Senate support for Texas teachers and classrooms on March 23, 2011. Community home care advocates for children rally on the South steps of the Capitol against budget cuts Community home care advocates for children rally on the 
South  steps of the Capitol against budget cuts Community home care advocates for adults and the elderly rally on the North steps of the Capitol against budget cuts Community home care advocates for adults and the elderly rally on the North steps of the Capitol against budget cuts Young boy protests school budget cuts during the Texas American Federation of Teachers rally at the Capitol. March 14th, 2011. Demonstrators protest school budget cuts during Texas American Federation of Teachers rally at Texas Capitol. March 14th, 2011 Demonstrators protest school budget cuts during Texas American Federation of Teachers rally at Texas Capitol. March 14th, 2011 A protester's sign asks for a tax increase to fund Texas public education at the Save Our Schools rally on March 12, 2011. Student Dalton Sherman of the Dallas school district speaks to thousands protesting education budget cuts at the Texas Capitol on March 12, 2011. Texas teachers wave signs during the Save Our School education rally at the Texas Capitol on March 12, 2011. A "Come and Take It" flag depicting an apple instead of the traditional cannon at the Save Our Schools rally at the Texas Capitol on March 12, 2011. Cindy Brady of New Braunfels holds a sign with a suggestion for Governor Perry at the Save Our Schools rally on March 12, 2011 Texas teachers raise their hands during the Save Our Schools rally at the Texas Capitol on March 12, 2011 Marchers with signs criticize Governor Perry's stance on school funding cuts in the Save Our Schools march to the Capitol on March 12, 2011. Thousands of Texans march to the Texas Capitol to protest school funding cuts on March 12, 2011 Planned Parenthood supporters rally on the south steps of the Texas Capitol on March 8, 2011. Disabled Texans from the Houston area rally against proposed social services cuts at the Capitol on March 1, 2011. People with disabilities protest at the Texas Capitol against budget cuts to home and community-based services on March 1, 2011. People with disabilities rally at Texas Capitol opposing budget cuts to home and community-based services. March 1st, 2011 Brandon Demings sits in the Senate gallery on Community College Day at the Texas Capitol. He says students at Kilgore College are already feeling the pinch of state budget cuts.
Rep. Rob Eissler (R-The Woodlands) discusses K-12 education issues at TribLive on February 3, 2011. State Rep. Rob Eissler, R-The Woodlands, speaks with Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith at TribLive on Feb. 3, 2011.  Rep. Rob Eissler (R-The Woodlands) answers an education question at TribLive on February 3, 2011 Senators Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa (D-Mission), Chairman Steve Ogden (R-Bryan) and John Whitmire (D-Houston) listen to SB1 testimony on January 31, 2011 Senate Finance Chairman Steve Ogden (R-Bryan) looks grim while he peruses Senate Bill 1 on January 31, 2011. Senators Juan Hinojosa _(D-Mission), Chairman Steve Ogden (R-Bryan) and John Whitmire (D-Houston) listen to testimony in the Senate Finance Committee hearing on January 31, 2011. Comptroller Susan Combs giving a biennial revenue estimate in Austin on Jan. 10, 2011. Crowded classroom in Edgewood School District, San Antonio, TX Total Senate spending for fiscal year 2010. Texas Comptroller Susan Combs Keith Phillips, senior economist, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the uninsured. Report: The Crunch Continues: Medicaid spending, coverage and policy in the midst of a recession. Results from a 50-state Medicaid budget survey for state fiscal years 2009 and 2010.

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