The Texas Senate recently passed its version of the state budget totaling $250.7 billion—$117.9 billion in General Revenue funds representing an increase of 2.6% in GR over the current budget. This amount doesn’t include the $38.6 billion in federal stimulus money the state was assigned.
The budget fully funds HB 3 and fulfills its commitments to retired teachers through an additional $3.1 billion assigned for public education enrollment growth, $458 million dedicated to payroll growth and contribution rates for retired teachers, and $39.5 million for hold harmless healthcare premiums for retired teachers.
Senate Finance Chair Jane Nelson (R) said this budget “…meets our obligations to vulnerable Texans,” and with an increment of $10.2 million for women’s health programs, the overall total dedicated for women’s health, $352.6 million, represents an all-time high in the state.
The budget also assigns $8.1 billion dollars to mental health. It will contribute to getting additional state hospital beds, new community health beds in urban and rural areas, and aims to spend $19 million to prevent substance abuse and suicide in young people. Another $20 million is budgeted for veterans struggling with mental health issues.
Nelson also stated that $57.6 million is assigned to combat human trafficking and $128 million for crime lab capacity with an emphasis to address the rape kits backlog.
$30 billion will be spent on the state transportations needs.
“Things were looking pretty bleak [last year], but never underestimate Texas. Because of our smart fiscal policy, we will be able to keep Texas strong, safe, and prosperous,” said Nelson.
Nelson declared that per Gov. Abbot’s request, Morath is making inquiries regarding the funds included in the federal stimulus specifically for education. Efforts will continue to maintain Elementary And Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds 2 (ESSER 2), and maintenance of equity for ESSER 3.