Both the House and the Senate headed back into session Wednesday (Jan. 23, 2013) after a short break for the Martin Luther King Holiday. The state budget will be center stage as the Senate Finance Committee begins meeting this week and committee members will be discussing how to fund our priorities including Education, Transportation and Water. The Senate Finance Committee is also scheduled to discuss the Governor’s Budget on Feb. 5.
Senate and House budget writers released their base budgets this week. The $5 billion in education cuts made in the last session were not restored, but discussions will continue with the input of the Lt. Governor and other advocates on this important issue. Restoring the deep cuts made to the Texas budget two years ago will be a major discussion point for legislators. One of the top priorities for the State House and Senate leaders who crafted the 2014-15 budget bills was to clean up the accounting adjustments made in 2011. Seven billion in funding will be needed to undo those creative accounting measures from the last session leaving about $95 billion for lawmakers to spend. The proposed senate budget has been set at $89 billion in general revenue. State agencies have estimated their needs to provide current level of services at $96 billion. Comptroller Susan Combs has projected $101.4 billion in revenue will be available and has projected that The Rainy Day Fund would have $11.8 billion available.
With regard to Transportation funding, TXDOT Executive Director Phil Wilson has indicated that his agency needs approximately $1 billion more a year for maintenance and $3 billion for new road projects.
Budget proposals made by lawmakers include no new money for Perry's signature business incentive programs, the Emerging Technology Fund and the Texas Enterprise Fund. Lawmakers also froze out the tech and enterprise funds in the 2011 session and did let the programs carry over unused money.
We will keep you updated on important legislative developments that affect the business community and our region as the legislative session unfolds. If you are interested in keeping up on the latest legislative development consider joining us for our next Government and Legislative Issues Committee meeting on Feb. 1 at 8:15 a.m. at the McKinney Chamber of Commerce.