The Texas House of Representatives and Senate released their spending proposals for the next biennium Wednesday, and they include billions of dollars in property tax credits, border security and pay increases for some government employees.
Both houses are proposing $288.7 billion in state and federal funds and $130.1 billion in total revenue over the next two years.
“The state’s commitment to fiscal responsibility has paid big dividends, and the Texas economy is booming,” Republican Senator Joan Huffman, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, said in a statement.
The published bills are the first drafts of legislators, and sweeping changes are expected to occur during the course of the legislative session. But it does give a clearer picture of what lawmakers are marking as spending priorities.
Both chambers have tentatively allocated $15 billion to provide property tax relief. This includes $3 billion to increase the homestead tax exemption from $40,000 to $70,000. The exemption reduces the taxable value of the homeowner’s primary residence.
That was the priority of the Republican-led legislature and Gov. Greg Abbott.
During Abbott’s inaugural address on Tuesday, he mentioned that the state was about to give Texans the “biggest” property tax cut in state history.
The reason the state could provide such assistance is due to its historic $32 billion budget surplus.
The budget proposals also include nearly $5 billion in funding for Abbott’s border security initiatives, including Operation Lone Star.
Lieutenant Gov. Dan Patrick, a Republican, said in a statement that the budget bill “delivers on our promises to Texans and sets the course for the continued prosperity of our state.”
School safety and education
The budget bills filed on Wednesday will also provide the Texas Education Agency with $600 million to help school districts “in implementing school safety initiatives.”
School safety is more important than ever. Next week will mark eight months since the teenage shooter’s attack on Robb’s elementary school in Uvalde, which killed 21 people.
In the meantime, the proposed appropriation for the core benefit—state funding per student—remains unchanged at $6,160.
Education advocates are calling for more funding.
Earlier this month, Bryan Woods, superintendent of San Antonio’s Northside Independent School District, told The Texas Newsroom that the increase in funding would automatically increase the salaries of teachers, counselors, nurses and librarians.
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