Texas House Bill 1: The Details

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.

HB 1 Is for the Children!

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!

7 responses to “Texas House Bill 1: The Details

  1. Pingback: Conservatives Strip $100 Million in Additional Fees from HB 1 | The Right Side of Austin

  2. Heather Herring

    HB1 is NOT for the children! I am a high school teacher and I watched yesterday as I watched six of my co-workers get fired or re-assigned to other campuses. I have been teaching for 17 years and I have never in all my years of teaching had a worse day than yesterday. What made it bad, not that seeing my co-worker lose their jobs was bad enough, was having that students had to see it. I always thought that teaching was a “recession-proof” career. That is until yesterday. Today, I had to play console my students when the shock really hit them that some of the teachers and programs that they really enjoyed wouldn’t be coming back in the fall because of budget cuts. How can anyone say that HB1 is for the children? Are you kidding me? Why don’t you come into my classroom and tell my students that and explain all of this to them? Explain to them why the state is $15-$27 BILLION in debt and programs that they love are being taken away from them. Explain to them why their tuition for college just went through the roof and why their parents may not be able to send them to college now and why they may not be able to get scholarships because no one is offering scholarships. Explain to them why the local community colleges aren’t offering dual credit courses because professors are being cut. And HB1 is for the children? Really?!

  3. Heather, what do you propose we do? Raise taxes? Zero out the budget for nursing homes and health and human services? De-fund our law enforcement or transportation?

    HB 1 puts 56% of the budget towards public education, it is not going to get much better than that in this down economy. Unlike Washington, DC, Texas is constitutionally required to operate on a balanced budget.

  4. Pingback: Op-Ed: Texas Puts Education First | The Right Side of Austin

  5. I think congressmen should consider raising taxes, even just a little bit. Everyone has to make sacrifices and budget cuts are definitely necessary, but the money from a small increase in taxes could help buffer the blow of deep budget cuts on our educational system.

  6. The current fiscal situation is in need to budget restructuring, but making deep cuts to the educational system is not the answer. I will agree that schools do have some excess and could lean down some, but our elected officials need to be a little smarter. To this day we are still requiring our teachers to put forth more and more with educational policies which were created by those which have never spent a day in a classroom, do not have a full understanding of cognitive development or educational psychology. The State wants to cut funding to education while still paying out massive amounts of money to maintain ineffective testing methods, such as the TAKS exams which research has shown does not provide a reliable measurement of student learning or retention. Yet we have elected officials through their appointees to the TEA; most of which have never been in a classroom, place greater emphasis on the exam results and attempting to tie educator jobs, salaries, and contract renewals to the results of these exams. Lets get smart, stop lining the pockets of political contributors which design these exams, do away with these exams and begin to allow teachers to teach while encouraging true instructional strategies which have been proven their extensive reliable research to be effective.
    In addition to this, our state needs to return to policies which make sense. Ten years back, the Criminal Justice department place a high emphasis on rehabilitation and treatment. These are programs which assist criminals with gaining the tools they need to stop the revolving door into the criminal behavior. Many of these programs were successful in reducing repeat offenders, helping with drug and alcohol abuse recovery, and addictions. Yet we the State elected to phase these programs out and focus on a primary lock-up environment, where they not only receive no treatment, but also get to learn to be better criminals. Community treatment is a cost effective alternative to lock-up that could save the State a lot of money annually, although it runs the risk of upsetting construction companies which are large political contributors. Finally, anyone that has ever taken at least an introduction economic or finance class should know that fiscal recovery can not occur through spending cuts alone. Cost of business increases, that is the natural progression of the economy. We cannot expect to survive financially at the same income level simply through cutting what we spend; if we do not generate enough money to pay our bills, cutting what we spend does not resolve that problem. Nobody wants to pay more in taxes than we have to and we all oppose even the thought of a tax increase, while politicians espoused to the alignment of political platforms which focus on no increases in taxes. The fact of the matter is, in order to recover, Texas must increase taxes even if at a small percentage in order to generate the additional funding required. If a citizen of the state cannot support his family with his current salary, he either attempts to obtain a new job which pays a higher salary or makes the sacrifice to obtain a secondary job in order to bring in the additional funds to support his family. It is time for our elected officials to realize that the future of our state is more important than their political careers or their political platforms.

  7. Your information is incorrect as the % of total budget education is. It cannot be 56% of total budget as it is constitutionally prohibited from being more than 55%.

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