AUSTIN — The budget-writing Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday authorized a $106.3 billion two-year spending plans for Texas government, a aim good within a state’s shortfall of revenues and spends reduction than a initial House plan.
One partial of a Senate devise sparked evident controversy: It will concede a state to save $2,5 billion in a entrance bill year by loitering until a following bill year a send of $2,5 billion in travel funding.
House Speaker Joe Straus, in an scarcely blunt response, immediately branded that scheme “cooking a books,” and likened it to a Enron accounting rascal liaison that brought down a Houston-based appetite hulk in 2001 in a fall that shook a financial world.
“Counting income twice in sequence to change a bill is not a good idea. This is a Texas Legislature. We are not Enron,” Straus told reporters. “I’m not meddlesome in cooking a books only to equivocate a opinion on a stormy day fund. We have option.”
House leaders, whose initial bill offer totaled $108.9 billion, have pronounced they cite to daub a state’s $10.2 billion assets comment to equivocate some-more serious cuts, even yet mercantile conservatives have pronounced they will quarrel any efforts to daub a comment except for one-time losses or healthy disasters.
The Senate plan, approaching to go to a full Senate subsequent Tuesday, proposes reduction spending than a House breeze proposal, and will not daub a assets comment — ordinarily famous as a Rainy Day Fund — to cover additional expenses.
Senate leaders did not immediately respond to Straus’ critique of their budget, though Finance Committee Chair Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, pronounced a accounting scheme had been authorized by Comptroller Glenn Hegar, a former senator.
Rank-and-fiile senators pronounced secretly that a House exclusion of a Senate bill portends a heated, long conflict over a state bill that could start as early as subsequent week, when a House Appropriations Committee is approaching to start finalizing a possess chronicle of a budget.
“This bill stays a work in progress, though we will continue a work to make a many of each dollar, accommodate a priority needs and keep Texas relocating in a right direction,” Nelson said. “This cabinet left no mill unturned looking for savings, examining a bill drivers and looking for ways to make smarter use of a singular resources.”
Nelson pronounced there now is no support in a Senate for regulating Rainy Day Funds to cover handling expenses, to minimize cuts to some programs, nonetheless she is peaceful to cruise doing so to compensate for some of a roughly $780 million indispensable for collateral projects and one-time expenses.
Highlights of a bill plan:
• Continues a stream appropriation levels for open education, though adds $2.65B for tyro enrollment growth, projected to be some-more than 80,000 per year over a subsequent dual years;
• provides $65M for a new public-private partnership to safeguard high peculiarity pre-kindergarten via a state, reduction than requested by Gov. Greg Abbott;
• adds $316M to comment a Teacher Retirement System shortfall;
• provides $3.4B for Child Protective Services, an boost of $430M over stream levels to repair ongoing caseload backlogs and high staff turnover;
• includes a $780M joining for new construction and poignant repairs to a state sanatorium system;
• Boosts appropriation for Medicaid to yield caseload expansion during FY 18 levels and assumes over $400M in cost containment initiatives;
• Adds $44.9M to a Railroad Commission to say stream operational fortitude and boost tube safety.
• Provides $46.2M to comment refuge and updates to a Alamo.
• Includes $40M to support infrastructure projects during Texas ports, including Houston.
• Maintains veterans’ services during stream levels.
• Maintains a $800M for limit confidence authorized dual years ago.
• Includes $25M for high size bullet-proof vests to strengthen Texas assent officers.