After hours of exhausting debate spanning parts of three days the Texas House of Representatives passed the state’s budget bill, House Bill 1.
In total HB 1 reflects a budget that reduces spending by 3.7% from general revenue and 9.7% in total from the budget that was adopted by the Legislature in May 2009 for the current biennium.
Even with the reductions in spending across the board passed in HB 1 Sunday night, the Legislature has still been able to increase funding for K-12 public education by 50% from the 2004-2005 levels.
The Texas House of Representatives budget priorities, as reflected in HB 1 as passed, can be easily seen as a percentage of proposed total spending,
- Education, consisting of 56% of the budget;
- Health and Human Services, consisting of 32.8 % of the budget
The total budget from general revenue for the session must be constitutionally balanced at no more than $77.6 billion, according to the Comptroller’s Biennial Revenue Estimate issued in January, 2011. In addition, spending from general revenue is constitutionally limited at $78.0 billion for this budget cycle. Unlike the federal government, Texas must operate on a balanced budget.
The Texas budget process is far from complete as there are numerous pieces of legislation pending that can create further costs and identify potential efficiencies throughout state government. Also there are numerous pieces of legislation pending that could raise revenue for the state, including bills to expanding the footprint of gambling in the State of Texas.
In addition to pending legislation that may change the revenue stream for the state keep in mind that the Texas House passing HB 1 is just one more step in a long process. Next HB 1 will go to the Senate for consideration and passage, then it will go a conference committee with each chamber being represented by 5 members to work out the differences in the two chambers bills. Once a final bill comes out of the conference committee then it goes back to the House and Senate for final approval. Once this happens it goes to Governor Perry. The Governor can sign the bill, let it pass with out his signature, or veto the whole bill.
Note that HB 1 has nothing to do with public school funding formals. HB 1 solely deals with appropriating the revenue of the state. The school formula bills will come later in the process. Also note that HB 1 does not fire or hire teachers. HB 1 appropriates the money that is constitutionally available to public education.
Bills to be debated soon will set the public school funding formulas that decides how much funds each of Texas’ 1,035 independent school districts will receive. Once the independent school districts receive their funds then those ISD’s administrators and publicly elected School Board members will decided how those funds are spent. More on this later!